The Liberal Arts: Crucial for Education and Society

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I was looking over some of my early blogposts, and I decided I wanted to revisit this piece about the Liberal Arts–the humanities–and their importance. The idea I write about in this little post is crucial for our society–the importance of the Liberal Arts in Education.

I had a piece published in the “Education Guide” of the Sunday, 2/15/15, edition of The Morning Call, the largest newspaper in the Lehigh Valley, PA. I am very proud of have the article in the paper, because I am very proud to be part of the Wescoe School of Muhlenberg College in Allentown, PA.

The Wescoe School is the name of the adult college program for Muhlenberg College. In this school, adults are able to gain full Bachelor degrees in a variety of majors and programs as well as certificate of study if they are focused on one specific area.

I have been teaching college English courses for many years, and I have been an adjunct instructor at many colleges, but I am deeply impressed with the quality of education and the care for the adult students that are demonstrated in this program.

I was honored to have been asked to write this piece, and I hope that I delivered a clear and sound explanation of the Liberal Arts, both in terms of history and application. I am an unrepentant Humanist; I still believe in the power of education to help people and in the ability of writing and words to help bridge gaps among people. Even at my age, I remain an idealist. Especially in the Wescoe program, I see education having a positive impact on students, many of whom have never attended college, might be starting their higher education in their 40s or 50s, and many of whom have full-time jobs and families. Their ability to learn and achieve never fails to humble me and to reinforce my belief in the strength of the Liberal Arts.

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34 thoughts on “The Liberal Arts: Crucial for Education and Society

  1. Education in the Liberal Arts is a wonderful thing, to be sure. But some other forms of education in school are little more than political indoctrination to keep everyone in line and accept the status quo. I am enjoying your articles Mr French.

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  2. I, too, am a life-long learner and am kind of shocked at how few people are. It seems people get a career, make a life, and then stay stuck in it. My life is always changing (even though I’ve had my same job for 28 years) because I am always reading, learning new things, and trying something out that I’ve always wanted to. Nice post and kudos to you, Charles for being a part of this wonderful program. Have a nice weekend. pam

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  3. Life without the arts is merely existing… I owe much to my old humanities professor and I am just about to email him. I just picked up a copy of |Catherine de Medici by Leonie Frieda and I could hear his voice as I did so.

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  4. The Liberal Arts might not be the Big Winner in job hunting, but nothing prepares you better for the bob-and-weave economy the tech industry has created. In a world where personal reinvention is a requirement, the Liberal Arts will teach you how to critically out-think the competition and adapt to an ever-changing business environment where knowing yourself is the real key to happiness. I have absolutely NO regrets in my choice of an English BA. While I may struggle often, so is everyone…

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  5. Berchtold Bistonnaccio

    …a line from an online ‘friend’, even without the context of the exchange, struck me well: ‘…our stories don’t really matter. It’s the enrichment you give someone else that counts. In the end I tend to lean more toward people then truth.’ Maybe the notion of categorizing liberal arts vs other things is …. terribly mistaken. Not because of subject matter, of course. Recalling a line from… Joyce, a summary of a labelled movement by, whomever, Derrida, ecc. Or move backward in history. But what it teaches, as it were… how to think not blindly but the notion of more understanding, less reliance on certainty.. is essential. It’s difficult to find… examples, even today though less so, in fields of… fundamental science, research, ecc., who don’t have a love of ‘liberal arts’. It belongs… with the richest, and most important, parts of living and understanding. Now-a-day…. we have ecomoic faculties terribly well funded, despite all the evidence, ever growing, from other places that bascially nearly all of its fundamental models are… wrong, even more than incomplete, particularly in the micro. (I recall waaay back, first year at Univ., asking my micro econ prof. ‘what happens when price itself determines demand?’ He looked at me briefly with the beginning of indulgent dismissal but before a tenth of a second looked back and recalled ‘ah, that guy, the only other one to get the 105/100 along with the chinese girl, on the midterm,’ and paused. He never did answer.

    It’s that re-pristinization, so to speak, of that kind of lazy dismissal, the removal of context so essential to understanding, to meaning, that ‘liberal’ arts, or the way of naturally of seeing the world, seeing people, sponsors or induces more than teaches. Maybe trying not to mistake hierarchy or presumption with… value, real value, and function, how things might accurately be more described in their functioning. But, alas… not so much in people as a whole but in the few controlling financing… presumptive certainty has taken a deep hold. I hope in whatever small way you can continue to help… resist.

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