As a society, we desperately need to invest more into the arts. Our culture has come to exalt the ability to calculate and analyze at the expense of developing an understanding of ourselves and our own emotions. We pride scientific achievements instead of developing artistic expression, partly due to the faults of American capitalism.

But, at the core of humanity lies complex emotions as opposed to pure, cold logic. By extension, we should value artistic pursuit, not scientific performance.

Engineers are the builders of materials and structures, while scientists are the explorers of atoms, forces and geometry. But artists, writers, filmmakers? They design the maps.

The Myth Of “Logic Over Emotion”

A few years ago, neuroscientist Antonio Damasio (a professor at USC who researches the mysteries of the conscious mind) examined individuals who had undergone damage to the emotional centers of their brains without hindering their rationalizing abilities.

What he found was that their capacity to make decisions was significantly impaired. Subjects could map out every potential pathway, weigh every pro and con and describe what they needed to do logically, but they simply could not intuitively figure out what they wanted. They could not act. They could not move forward.

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From where I sit, it feels like the study of the liberal arts and the culmination of that education—the liberal arts and sciences degrees—are being challenged like never before. State governors, top business executives, and parents are questioning the end products that come from liberal arts institutions. In a recent Washington Post article, a managing director of a major financial management company complained that a liberal arts education mainly created “incredibly interesting, well-rounded cocktail party guests” but not graduates who are likely to find jobs.

Unfortunately, I think that a too-narrow focus on first jobs for graduates has these folks missing the bigger point—liberal arts institutions educate for employment, but they also educate for success. That’s the “plus” in our system, our game changer, and I will come back to that later.

I must say that the frustration of critics is completely understandable: unemployment rates remain high, and college education, already shockingly expensive, is growing ever more so. Students are graduating with unprecedented debt. People are concerned about the value—the return on investment of a college degree. It’s no surprise to me when high school students and their parents approach our admissions counselors asking, “So, what kind of job will Susie be able to get with her bachelor of arts degree?” or more pointedly, “Do you offer STEM education?”

Without question, STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) is the new buzzword for those anxious about post-graduation employment. These are all disciplines in which America must excel if it is to retain its industrial and economic strength. In his February 2013 State of the Union address, President Obama urged that we double-down on science and technology education starting in our secondary schools. To give the argument even more traction, some would widen the list of STEM professions to include educators, technicians, managers, social scientists, and health care professionals. Indeed, the talk these days in my state of Virginia is about STEM-H (for healthcare).

According to the U.S. Department of Commerce, the STEM job sector is growing at twice the rate of non-STEM occupations, but we should note some caveats. First, let’s remember that STEM workers, as identified by the Commerce Department, comprise only 5.5% of the workforce. Second, while STEM workers overall may earn 26% more than their counterparts, the greatest differential is seen in the lowest-level jobs; the higher the terminal degree, the less the earnings difference.

Moreover, it is not a given that the only path to STEM job success is to obtain a STEM degree.

  • About one-third of college-educated workers in STEM professions do not hold degrees in STEM.
  • Two-thirds of people holding STEM undergraduate degrees work in non-STEM jobs.
  • One-fifth of math majors, for instance, end up working in education. (That is a good thing, I would argue.)
  • Nearly 40% of STEM managers hold non-STEM degrees.

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The Trivium and the Quadrivium

The Liberal Arts

The liberal arts consists of seven branches of knowledge that prepare students for lifelong learning.

The concept is Classical, but the term Liberal Arts and their division into the TRIVIUM and the QUADRIVIUM date back to the Middle Ages.

The Trivium and the Quadriviumtrivium-wikipedia

The trivium includes those aspects of the liberal arts that pertain to mind.  The quadrivium, those aspects of the liberal arts that pertain to matter.

TRIVIUM= Logic, Grammar, and Rhetoric.

QUADRIVIUM= Arithmetic, Music, Geometry, and Astronomy.

Logic is the art of thinking; grammar, the art of inventing symbols and combining them to express thought; and rhetoric, the art of communicating thought from one mind to another, the adaptation of language to circumstance. Arithmetic, the theory of number, and music, an application of the theory of number (the measurement of discrete quantities in motion), are the arts of discrete quantity or number. Geometry, the theory of space, and astronomy, an application of the theory of space, are the arts of continuous quantity or extension.

liberal-arts-fig1

 

These arts of reading, writing, and reckoning have formed the traditional basis of liberal education, each constituting both a field of knowledge and the technique to acquire that knowledge. The degree bachelor of arts is awarded to those who demonstrate the requisite proficiency in these arts, and the degree master of arts, to those who have demonstrated a greater proficiency.

Today, as in centuries past, a mastery of the liberal arts is widely recognized as the best preparation for work in professional schools, such as those of medicine, law, engineering, or theology.

Those who first perfect their own faculties through liberal education are thereby better prepared to serve others in a professional or other capacity.

 

 

Source: The Trivium: The Liberal Arts of Logic, Grammar, and Rhetoric
by Sister Miriam Joseph Rauh, C.S.C., (1898-1982) earned her doctorate from Columbia University.
A member of the Sisters of the Holy Cross, Sister Miriam was professor of English at Saint Mary’s College from 1931 to 1960.

 

thinker_artist-rodin

During the era of classical antiquity (when ancient Greece and ancient Rome intertwined creating the Greco-Roman world), liberal arts was considered essential education for a free individual active in civic life. At the time, this would have entailed being able to participate in public debate, defend oneself and serve in court and on juries, and perform military service. At this time, liberal arts covered only three subjects: grammar, rhetoric and logic, collectively known as the trivium. This was extended in medieval times to include four further subjects: arithmetic, geometry, music and astronomy, named the quadrivium – so there were seven liberal arts subjects in the medieval liberal arts curriculum.

The trivium was considered preparatory work for the considerably more difficult quadrivium, with the quadrivium in turn being considered preparatory work for the more serious study of philosophy and theology. The aim of a liberal arts education was to produce a person who was virtuous and ethical, knowledgeable in many fields and highly articulate.

Although modern liberal arts curriculums have an updated choice of a larger range of subjects, it still retains the core aims of the liberal arts curricula maintained by the medieval universities: to develop well-rounded individuals with general knowledge of a wide range of subjects and with mastery of a range of transferable skills.

They will become ‘global citizens’, with the capacity to pursue lifelong learning and become valuable members of their communities.

Original Source: http://www.topuniversities.com/blog/what-liberal-arts-education

Is Education is Useless

A simple search of the terms Education is Useless, pulls-up over 74 MILLION returns, making the topic one for investigation.

Here are a couple that should give one pause to reflect…..be sure to read to the end.

calvin-mackieCalvin Mackie

As a mechanical engineer with a Ph.D., a motivational STEM speaker and a former college professor, you’d probably be surprised to hear that I think education is useless.

In America, the education system has moved away from developing citizens to serve their fellow man to the unadulterated pursuit of standardized success at any cost. Mixed in with a sea of social change and celebrity obsession, somehow we’ve all lost sight of the goal of education: creating passionate students who are employable, teachable and adaptable in a dynamic world. Students are turned off for a number of reasons right now.

To get back on track, we must recognize that education is useless if students aren’t thirsty for it!

I’ll always remember this lesson that my grandma and grandpa taught me when I was a young kid. I was trying to force a pig to eat the slop I had prepared for him, when my uneducated but wise grandmother stated the truism, “Baby, you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink!”

Much like the pig, today’s students don’t want the education we have prepared. They either aren’t hungry or they’ve gotten their fill from somewhere else. In response to my grandma, my grandpa yelled back, “Yeah, you can’t make him drink, but you sure can get him thirsty!”

We can bring students their education and put it on a silver platter right in front of them, but if they don’t want it, they’re not going to eat it. How can we make our students crave it? How can we get them motivated and passionate about learning again? The key is to get back to basics and remember what education is really about.

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