Monday’s Mtg: Is Education Just About Getting a Job Now?

Dean, our double-Master’s degrees in liberal arts member, asks if education is just about the Benjamins these days. Certainly, the worst recession in living memory has concentrated the minds of young people. Add to that the skyrocketing cost of college and the growing need for technical skills to hold many jobs, and you’ve pretty much turned college (and vocational education) into a bloodless transactional affair for most young people these days.

But, is college as something more – a voyage of self-discovery, a place for creating good citizens, etc. – really dying out? Dean will open our meeting with his brief take on this question, and then we can discuss it. I’m particularly interested in people’s personal stories and experience on this one, a la the first discussion question, below.

Discussion Questions –

  1. What kind of education did you get? Was it in the liberal arts or in another field that we typically think of as lower-paying? Why did you make this choice? What did you get out of it and what did you give up?
  2. How many people get a liberal arts education these days compared to the past? What has caused this change?
  3. Is there really a monetary disadvantage to a liberal arts education? What, if anything, compensates for that?
  4. What about from a societal perspective? Do we need liberal arts to form good citizens and well-rounded adults? Should our educations system go out of its way to revive liberal arts?

Links –

What is the purpose of education?

What is a liberal arts education?

  • Definition of the liberal arts: “Academic disciplines, such as languages, literature, history, philosophy, mathematics, and science, that provide information of general cultural concern.”
    Notice it includes sciences and math. But, most people probably exclude these when they think of the liberal arts, and I think we should, too. This lets us focus on the debate over a softer, generalist education versus a highly technical one that produces immediately marketable skills.
  • A list of the many, many fields considered to be within the liberal arts.

Critique and defenses of a liberal arts education –

NEXT WEEK: Jim Z. on, The Case For and Against Woodrow Wilson.


One response

  1. When I was in high school, in the wake of Sputnik in 1956, we had beefed up courses in science and math, so we could become engineers and beat those Russkis to the moon. And we did! But not thanks to me.
    As much as I love science, I decided then that the world’s problems would not be solved by science and technology, indeed, in many cases, technologies become the problem. So I made a deliberate decision to go into humanities.

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