On the Purpose of Liberal Arts Education

Why should you study any subject that does not help to train you for a job? To answer that question there are some benefits a liberal arts education and its accompanying widespread knowledge will give you.

I. A liberal arts education teaches you how to think
1. You will develop strength of mind and an ordered intellect.
Learning in an area will train the mind and strengthens the mind when learning other things. You will also learn that thinking has its own characteristic. Many subjects help the student to develop an ordered mind, and each subject contributes in a slightly different way.
2. You will be able to think for yourself.
The body of knowledge of every subject can give you the tools of examination and analysis that you will learn to use, will enable you to develop your own opinions, attitudes, values, and beliefs. You will develop an active engagement with knowledge, if you learn a lot of subjects, you will see the relations between ideas and philosophies and subject areas and to put each in its appropriate position.
3. The world becomes understandable.
The knowledge of a wide range of events philosophies, procedures, and possibilities makes the phenomena of life appear coherent and understandable. A wide ranging education, will provide many tools for understanding. Context is crucial for full understanding, and a general knowledge of the world gives you that context.

II. A liberal arts education teaches you how to learn.
1. College provides a telescope, not an open and closed book.
Every university can give you 4 years for everything you need to know, but the real education it will be in the skill of learning itself. The liberal arts institution will enable you to understand new material more easily, to learn faster and more thoroughly and permanently
2. The more you learn, the more you can learn.
In terms of the psychology of learning, in order for new information to be transferred from short-term memory into long-term memory, your mind has to reach into long-term memory and find a relevant schema to attach the new information to. The more you learn about everything, the easier it becomes to learn anything and everything else because you have more schema to draw upon.
3. Old knowledge clarifies new knowledge.
There is a person called George Herbert noted that people are best taught by using something they are familiar with, something they already understand, to explain something new and unfamiliar. Many times the mind will create its own analogies, almost unconsciously, to teach itself about the unfamiliar by means of the familiar. It means that the liberal arts education creates an improvement of perception and understanding.
4. General knowledge enhances creativity.
Knowledge of many subject areas provides a cross fertilization of ideas, a fullness of mind that produces new ideas and better understanding. The greater the storehouse of your knowledge, and the wider its range, the more creative you will be.

III. A liberal arts education allows you to see things whole
1. A context for all knowledge.
There is a quote like this one “When the only tool you have is a hammer, you tend to see every problem as a nail.” It means that all knowledge is one, a unified wholeness, and every field of study is but a piece or an angle or a way of partitioning this knowledge.
2. A map of the universe.
Such a systematic view of reality provides an understanding of hierarchies and relationships–which things are more valuable or important than others, how one thing is dependent on another, and what is associated with or caused by something else.
3. Life itself is a whole, not divided into majors.
Every problem at jobs or more endeavors not only require one type of knowledge but also need more knowledge than that of one field. We can see it in our life, every day about this fact. For the example is a doctor need to understand about biology beside of pharmacology to diagnosis the patient.

IV. A liberal arts education enhances wisdom and faith
1. General knowledge will plant the seeds of wisdom.
Wisdom is seeing life whole meaning that every realm of knowledge must be consulted to discover a full truth. Knowledge leads to wise action, to the service of God and to an understanding of human nature: “With all your knowledge, get understanding” is the Biblical precept.
2. General knowledge is an ally of faith.
General knowledge provides an active understanding of the Gospel and of how it intertwines with human nature, the desires and needs of the heart, the hunger of the soul, and the questions of the mind. Some students have remarked that, yes, they always “believed” the Bible, but they have been surprised by how modern and accurate its portrait of humanity really is.

V. A liberal arts education makes you a better teacher
I know that not everyone want to be a teacher. A lot of jobs which the roles is essentially that of teacher for example preacher, journalist, social worker, but more than this you will almost certainly be someone’s friend, a husband or wife and probably a parent. In fact, any time two human beings get together and open their mouths, teaching and learning are going on. There are several personality that should be your desire to make the quality, richness, and truth of your teaching as great as possible.

VI. A liberal arts education will contribute to your happiness
1. A cultivated mind enjoys itself and the arts.
The extensive but increasingly neglected culture of western civilization provides endless material for pleasure and improvement, “sweetness and light” as it has been traditionally called “the sweet and useful”. A deep appreciation of arts will open to the mind that can understand and enjoy it.
2. Knowledge makes you smarter and smarter is happier.
There is a research with the conclusion if the Educated and intelligent people have, statistically, happier marriages, less loneliness, lower rates of depression and mental illness, and a higher reported degree of satisfaction with life.

VII. The uniqueness of a Christian liberal arts education
There is a person called John Henry Newman and he wrote “In order to have possession of the truth at all, we must have the whole truth; and no one science, no two sciences, no one family of sciences, nay, not even all secular science, is the whole truth. . . .” . The Christian liberal arts education alone provides a standard of measure and a point of verification for the knowledge and ideas you will encounter now and for the rest of your life. There are five great questions that must be answered before life can progress meaningfully:
Who am I?
Why am I here?
Where did I come from?
Where am I going?
What is the purpose of life?
Only when these questions have been correctly answered can the next set be correctly answered also:
Why should I act?
How should I act?
What is good?
What is to be sought?
Every people can answer this question in different way, and every answer related to the quality and effectiveness, or perhaps the misery and despair, of his life.

VIII. Pertinent Quotations
1. From The Idea of a University by John Henry Newman
There are several quotes that related to the idea of a University by John Henry Newman. The best quote that I like is :

“A truly great intellect . . . is one which takes a connected view of old and new, past and present, far and near, and which has an insight into the influence of all these one on another; without which there is no whole, and no centre.”

It is because all of the views are interrelated between the newest one and the oldest one and we can combine them to solve the problem according to the context of that view.

2. Others’ views
“The whole object of education is, or should be, to develop mind. The mind should be a thing that works.” –Sherwood Anderson
“More is experienced in one day in the life of a learned man than in the whole lifetime of an ignorant man.” –Seneca
“Much education today is monumentally ineffective. All too often we are giving young people cut flowers when we should be teaching them to grow their own plants.” –John Gardner

We have to study any subject that does not help to train you for a job because of every different subject can give opportunities for your life, especially for the personality of the person itself. Not only the personality but it can make us happier, more religious than before, and think more curiously about life and so on.


~ by sankerenti on January 31, 2012.

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