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Home » Education: For Whom and For What?: Noam Chomsky (Transcript)

Education: For Whom and For What?: Noam Chomsky (Transcript)

Transcript of Noam Chomsky’s lecture titled: “Education: For Whom and For What?” which was delivered at the University of Arizona on Feb. 8, 2012.


JOHN PAUL JONES: Well now, what can I say about tonight’s speaker who, after all, has been as intellectually influential as Noam Chomsky? The author of 100 books and countless articles, he is the founder of modern linguistics. His ideas have not only revolutionized linguistics, they have indelibly shaped anthropology, cognitive science, childhood education, computer science, the languages, mathematics, psychology, philosophy and speech.

In fact, you can find self-described Chomskyites in every field that asks the question, what does it mean to be human? If there was a Nobel Prize for social and behavioral sciences, he would have won it long ago with his original book, the first book, Syntactic Structures, which appeared in 1957. He is, according to the Chicago Tribune, the most cited living author and he’s third most cited in the world behind Plato and Freud.

Professor Chomsky gave a research talk yesterday to a small group, 1200 faculty, students and community members in the UA Student Union, and I have to say I was overwhelmed by the response.

Toussaint, by all rights, you have a claim on the title, The Athens of the West. And of course, there is Chomsky, the public intellectual, the self-described libertarian socialist and anarchist, a critic of established politicians on both the left and the right. An activist who has influenced millions, Professor Chomsky is well known for his relentless critiques of US foreign policy, from his outspoken stance against the Vietnam War and his first political book, American Power and the New Mandarins, to his forthcoming 2012 volume, a collection of essays titled Making the Future: Occupations, Interventions, Empire and Resistance.

The topic of tonight’s lecture, Education: For whom and for what? draws on another line of critique, one based on a lifetime of thinking about education’s role in the pursuit of democracy, justice and freedom. For us at the University of Arizona, these issues are of utmost importance as we grapple with how to maintain quality and access in the face of over $180 million of budget cuts in recent years. Today, only 16% of the total university budget comes from the state, a figure that is half of what it was 10 years ago.

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