The “fundamental thesis” of David F. Labaree’s A Perfect Mess, according to Edwin Woodruff Tait, is that “American higher education is an instrument in maintaining both social mobility and social stability.”

In his Autumn 2017 review of Labaree’s work, Woodruff Tait highlights some of the history of American higher education as outlined in A Perfect Mess. Subjects include the tension between liberal arts education and professional training, and the stratification of the different “levels” of postsecondary education, from elite to plebeian.

According to Woodruff Tait, Labaree’s points are reflected in the realities of theological education. He uses the tension between “traditional academic disciplines such as church history and systematic theology” and practical training in counseling and pastoral leadership as an illustration.

To read more about A Perfect Mess and how it may be applied to theological education, read Woodruff Tait’s “The chaos that makes American higher education – including theological education – so powerful” online.