in case you haven't already seen this, 'this is water' is what i would teach if i ever founded the school of gail: http://web.ics.purdue.edu/~drkelly/DFWKenyonAddress2005.pdf (this is water, david foster wallace)
to sum it up, here are some direct quotes:a liberal arts education is not so much about filling you up with knowledge as it is about teaching you how to think. ... the point here is that i think this is one part of what 'teaching me how to think' is really supposed to mean: to be just a little less arrogant. to have just a little critical awareness about myself and my certainties. ... this is not a matter of virtue. it's a matter of my choosing to do the work of somehow altering or getting free of my natural, hard-wired default setting which is to be deeply and literally self-centered and to see and interpret everything through this lens of self. people who can adjust their natural default setting this way are often described as being 'well-adjusted', which i suggest to you is not an accidental term. ... i have come gradually to understand that the liberal arts cliche about teaching you how to think is actually shorthand for a much deeper, more serious idea: learning how to think really means learning how to exercise some control over how and what you think. it means being conscious and aware enough to choose what you pay attention to and to choose how you construct meaning from experience. because if you cannot exercise this kind of choice in adult life, you will be totally hosed. ... the capital-T Truth is about life BEFORE death. it is about the real value of a real education, which has almost nothing to do with knowledge, and everything to do with simple awareness; awareness of what is so real and essential, so hidden in plain sight all aroundus, all the time. ... it is unimaginably hard to do this, to stay conscious and alive in the adult world day in and day out.