Colleges should focus more on liberal arts

Discussion in 'Education and Academia' started by quentinc, Jan 15, 2007.

  1. DoctorJones24

    DoctorJones24 Member

    Aug 26, 1999
    That's certainly part of it.

    Another big part is also way bigger than either parents or school curricula. It's a culture-wide shift away from the written word. In many ways, our children are growing up in a post-literate society. JK Rowling is doing her best to stem that tide, but just think how many thousand fewer sentences the average college freshman has seen in his life, compared to one 20 years ago, 40 years ago. Reading is the best practice for writing there is, and yet whenever I teach Comp 111, I get freshman who show up the first day and admit to having NEVER read a book. Actually, now I just tell them beforehand to lie to me if that is indeed the case, as I won't be able to take them seriously.

    Anyway, I tend to agree with the need for a shift back toward more liberal arts, as much for reading/criticial thinking/cultural literacy as for writing. In my experience, a large percentage of specialized major courses are useless garbage that cover material that any bright kid will pick up in his first 3 months on the job in any case. Hell, most of the major companies are going to retrain you for this anyway. I think someone with a major in philosophy or anthropology, and a minor in econ or marketing or whatever, would be much more well rounded, and a more attractive hire. The kid would get a lot more for his money, too, IMO.
  2. Mike22

    Mike22 New Member

    Nov 8, 2005
    Tampa-->KC, Mo
    I have a job for after graduation. Relocating to KC for Cerner. In all the interviews I had, I never received a question about the morals espoused in Plato's "The Republic," or what Catch-22 was, or why directors of movies rehash the same scripts over and over again.

    I completely understand that need for an intellectual life outside of work. This is certainly one of the reasons why I want out of school: all my homework stops me from pursuing my interests rather than my teacher's.

    I'm currently in the middle of Friedman's "The World is Flat." I'm scared. I've worked hard in high school, I've worked hard in college, I have lots of interests: soccer, technology, reading, geography, comedy, etc.

    Yet, the only thing that mattered when I interviewed was what Computer classes I had taken, what I had done in those classes, and what I had learned from working in group projects.

    While those are obviously just interview questions and do not necessarily reflect whether or not I will succeed and/or excel in a career, the right answers and experiences are what give you the foot in the door to succeed and/or excel.

    From the aforementioned book, China and India are churning out great masses of driven, non-balanced yet extremely mathematically proficient individuals. The success of this is reflected in the increasingly large "high trade good" (not plastic toys) deficit between the US and said countries, I believe.

    As I said in my previous post, I'm certainly not advocating placing less/no emphasis on the liberal arts. But, more emphasis is certainly not necessary. On the contrary, more emphasis should be placed on the quality of mathematical teaching in American schools, as a vast majority of the graduate students in my field at my school are of East-Asian or Indian heritage.
  3. quentinc

    quentinc New Member

    Jan 3, 2005
    Annapolis, MD
    Just because they don't ask you something in an interview doesn't mean it won't be useful in your actual job.
  4. nicephoras

    nicephoras A very stable genius

    Fucklechester Rangers
    Jul 22, 2001
    Eastern Seaboard
    What is your field?
  5. DoctorJones24

    DoctorJones24 Member

    Aug 26, 1999
    Here, we worry about falling behind in math/technical fieds. But if you check out the educational journals in those countries, you'll find them full of worry too: "We're focusing too much on math/technical stuff! Our students don't seem to be as good critical thinkers as American kids." That's what so many elite Asians are sending their kids over to America for private high school educations.
  6. Wingtips1

    Wingtips1 Member+

    May 3, 2004
    Liverpool FC

    by only having technical knowledge in one area, you'll become a great worker for that company. you probably won't become a great leader.
    there is a reason so many asian firms are turning to westerners to head up their operations: they are much more visionary, more well-rounded.
    the asians have engineers that have scaled the ranks running companies. the westerners have engineers who left and added skills through MBA's and the like. being too focused isn't a good thing.
  7. nicodemus

    nicodemus Member+

    Sep 3, 2001
    Cidade Mágica
    PAOK Saloniki
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    ...and it makes you boring at parties. :D
  8. uclacarlos

    uclacarlos Member+

    Aug 10, 2003
    east coast
    FC Barcelona
    Nat'l Team:

    Forgive me for jumping in well into the thread. And I admit I haven't read the entire thread.

    But seriously. It's not about the information, per se. Hell, even in academic interviews for a professorship in Philosophy do they randomly/not so randomly ask you to opine on Plato's Republic.

    It's about training your brain to think.

    That, essentially, is what college is all about. Training your brain to think. It's about processing information, problem solving at high levels of thought and discourse, synthesizing information, breaking down information for those less knowledgeable, bridging the gap btw those w/ more expertise (like professors) and those w/ less (students), developing your writing skills so that you can, you know... write well and communicate an idea, whether it be a memo, a manual, an email, etc.:rolleyes:

    These are all life skills that are highly important.

    Even for me -- a professional academian -- most of the "information" that I learned in grad school I've forgotten. But I know where to go to (re)find that information. And when I do so, I'm now smarter than I was back then and I'm better at synthesizing the information, developing theories on it and communicating them w/ the rest of the field.
  9. Anteaters FC

    Anteaters FC New Member

    Mar 28, 2004
    Santa Monica
    Somebody rep him for me.
  10. quentinc

    quentinc New Member

    Jan 3, 2005
    Annapolis, MD
    Already done.
  11. Wingtips1

    Wingtips1 Member+

    May 3, 2004
    Liverpool FC
    how else are you going to pick up the ladies if the only game you can spit revolves around neutron dialysis?

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