“Liberal Arts or Something More Practical?”

Steve Jobs - street signs Liberal Arts + Technology

This is the title of a great OpEd piece in the Providence Journal on Sunday, November 30, 2014 (page F 6). I was surprised to see that the article was written by Amanda Siegel, a senior at Rocky Hill School, a small independent school in RI. Good for her!

Her theme was to consider the value of a liberal arts education. The question is always, don’t college students need to be more practical? Acquire specific skills? Plan for their future vocations, not dally around learning about art, history, literature and the like? My favorite quote that supports the liberal arts was from Wesleyan University President Michael Roth, “liberal education intertwines the philosophical and rhetorical so that we learn how to learn, so that we continue both inquiry and cultural participation throughout our lives because learning has become part of who we are.” Her question is, “Isn’t that what we want for our students?” She points out that according to many, a liberal arts education leads to innovation. Tony Golsby-Smith, writing in the Harvard Business Review, stated that the most innovative thinkers come from the humanities and that”people trained in the humanities …have learned to play with big concepts, and to apply new ways of thinking to difficult problems that can’t be analyzed in conventional ways.” Siegel also quotes Steve Jobs as saying that “it’s technology married with liberal arts, married with humanities that yields us that result that makes our heart sing.” Sounds good to me. Liberal arts and technology need not be mutually exclusive. Please check out this article and see what you think. Peace, Ginny Fox

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