How does a liberal arts education help develop an individual’s character? As a working class individual with degrees in the humanities, I have argued the notion that my area of study helped me become a better person rather than a person with hard skills.
I have skills in writing, analysis, logical thinking, and the big one: empathy. I have come to terms that a liberal arts education is not a stepping-stone in a fully ordered career plan. However, I do have imagination and imagination is what I found to be the common trait in students that have studied Liberal Arts.
1) What makes a Liberal Arts Student Different
These individuals appeal to a certain type of imagination: empathy. For what is empathy if not imagination?
You imagine yourself in someone else’s shoes, you imagine “what if that starving child was my own child?” you imagine yourself closer to the atrocities being done even when your fifteen million miles away. Empathy is a form of imagination that demands you to stand outside of yourself and connect with another being.
2) The Lesson in Liberal Arts
Studying the humanities communicates the same message. Are we responsible to individuals we don’t even know, that are half way across the world?
The answer is yes. My duty as a moral individual is to help anyone in need, to be my brother’s keeper, to empathize with those who are suffering. My background in history and philosophy taught me not only that history repeats itself, but that you can learn from it too.
3) The Benefits of Liberal Arts
History may be tales of the victors, but future generations can learn from past mistakes. I began to realize that violence or self-shame are not choices that will aid me in my life journey.
I learned from my studies that life is unfair, yet there is hope because there are people who can empathize, imagine, and act. I have learned that value must be based on its moral implications and its ability to develop an individual into a better citizen of the world.
4) Why learning about the Liberal Arts is important
Why is learning of and about the Liberal Arts important? Because in this time and age, we need to teach our generation and the next one that a person’s value is not measured by utility. Teaching and learning the Liberal Arts will not fix everything, it will not cure or nullify the tragedies in the world.
However, it can provide a demarcation towards understanding. An understanding that will ultimately lead to empathy and action.
Given our current state in the world, from terrorism to environmental challenges, the ability to recognize “the other”- the “other” less fortunate, the “other struggling”- catapults an individual towards passionate change.
Knowing this, I highly recommend that anyone that reads this article share it on social media. Not just to learn about Liberal Art studies, but to discover the benefits of learning about the depths of human history.