I’ve always thought insight is best defined as noting something obvious that everyone else overlooked. In the comments of this post about an article by Andrew Hacker and Claudia Dreifus which argued that universities need to return to their core mission of education, ecologist notes a key point:
Education is not, and should not be, the core mission of the university.
The core mission of the university is scholarship. The university is a place in which the creation, transmission, criticism, and development of knowledge is the paramount good. Part of that mission is the transmission of knowledge. Transmission is done by writing (in all the multitude of forms to which that has been generalized by technology), by speaking, by performing, and by educating. So, yes, education is a (important) part of the mission of scholarship, but it is only a part.
We live in a culture in which “scholarship” gets little respect. “Education” sounds so much more useful, although we have all seen what happens when utility becomes linked to education as the core mission of the university. But scholarship is important.
So, do not EVER let someone tell you that education is the core mission of the university, and all this pesky research and writing and scholarship is just a distraction. The true relation between education and the rest of the core mission of the university is much more complex and subtle than that.