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Spring 2004
The Education Imperative
Beyond Rhetoric
8 Mile
Exodus
Starting Out on the Right Path
Principals of Leadership
No Child Left Behind
Diversity, Economics and Education
Globalization’s Missing Middle
Leveling the Playing Field
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Spring 2004
The Education Imperative
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Q: What do you mean by learning how to learn?

A: Learning how to explore things in greater depth and detail. It's like peeling an onion. You see that there are different layers of complexity and subtlety to a subject. For example, when I graduated from high school, I thought that I knew precisely what an atom looked like. When I got my Ph.D., I realized that I didn't have any idea of what an atom looked like — but I knew why I didn't know.

What matters most is not what you study as an undergraduate, but that you learn how to dig in, to get to the bottom of things. You uncover the boundaries of what you know and what you do not know, and you keep pushing them out in both directions. Often, the greatest reward comes to a student who has found not a new answer but a new question.

Q: What do you believe is the university's responsibility to society?

A: We have an obligation to prepare students to become productive members of society. This means that, at a minimum, our students are literate and numerate across a broad range of disciplines. We are educating global leaders and citizens, so it's important for young people to be exposed not only to a variety of fields but also to many cultures and civilizations.

The role of the university goes beyond understanding the world around us; it extends to understanding ourselves. That requires our involvement in, and understanding of, the arts and humanities. Individuals who have not been exposed to the arts while they're in college are unlikely to develop an appreciation for them later in life. But if you do take an art- or music-history class, or attend a performance on campus — if you show some level of interest in these subjects — that will plant a seed that will likely blossom, and in so doing enrich the rest of your life.

Finally, there is an ethical dimension to an education. As our nation's second president, John Adams, said: "Wisdom and knowledge, as well as virtue, diffused generally among the body of the people (are) necessary for the preservation of their rights and liberties."

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2005 The Regents of the University of California