Remember when the Yale Herald revealed in December that New York Times columnist David Brooks would be teaching a course called "Humility" in New Haven? That wasn't a joke, in fact! Brooks's course now boasts a complete syllabus, which starts off with this description of the class's purpose:
Everyone says character is important to leadership but few people know how to build it. This course will survey one character-building tradition, one that emphasizes modesty and humility. The strategies covered here start from a similar premise—that human beings are blessed with many talents but are also burdened by sinfulness, ignorance and weakness. Character emerges from the internal struggles against one’s own limitations.
Perhaps the most ridiculous, David Brooksian aspect of the syllabus — beyond the title of the course it was written up for — is the reading list. As noted by Daily Intel, the class will be forced to discuss Professor Brooks's very own writing. During Week 2 (theme: "The Cultural Shift") his students will read his 2001 Atlantic essay "The Organization Kid"; for Week 13 (theme: "Fate"), they'll appraise "Life Reports by David Brooks," which are three of his Times columns stitched together. And none of this seems to faze Brooks:
"I certainly wasn't wrong about it provoking smart ass jibes," Brooks wrote in an e-mail to Daily Intelligencer last night about the class. "I understand the shot taking — the target was designed to be easy — but getting beyond the Twitter level, I don't see what is intrinsically ridiculous about the course."
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.
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