The Liberal Arts are for people who can’t hack it in the real world.
The Liberal Arts are all about touchy-feely things like emotions and feelings.
I already took Literature in high school, why would I have to take it in college, too?
Have you ever heard someone express these sentiments? Or –grimace– thought this yourself or even said anything like this? Perhaps you’re not even sure what it is, exactly, but you just know it’s a dirty word.
No shame if you have, but it’s common misconceptions such as these about liberal arts programs and courses that necessitates addressing, and who better to hear it from than your favorite experienced Liberal Arts educator who deeply cares for you and her discipline? This is, by no means, a comprehensive primer on the subject, but just a small snapshot of what Liberal Arts actually means.
It is my hope that you are here to learn more about how you can incorporate activities and lessons that are traditionally thought of as liberal arts into your own classroom, regardless of what you teach!
Round is the Point
I get it. I do. A Liberal Arts program of study is not concrete and its courses cannot be directly tied to or associated with a specific career or job. It’s more rounded than a direct arrow pointing at a career. But here’s the thing, that is the whole point (pun intended). Let me explain.
What does “Liberal” mean?
Let’s begin with this: “Liberal” is not a dirty word. The Latin word liber actually means “free” or “unrestricted”. In its most fundamental usage, the word is not political, it’s meant to convey the absence of restraint or prohibition. It has, however, evolved into a reference to a person who believes that governments should allocate their resources and attention to alleviating social ills, with which some people disagree. However, “Liberal Arts” and Liberal Arts programs of study are not political in nature; and, therefore, a Liberal Arts education is not an undesirable discourse of study.
For a more expanded analysis on etymology, check out what Merriam Webster has to say here.
What is “Liberal Arts”, then?
Liberal arts programs and courses focus on the pursuit of knowledge and the development of a well-rounded person who is informed, capable of empathy and understands multiple perspectives, and uses logic and reason to draw their own conclusions about the truth and reality of the world around them. Doesn’t that all sound idealistic and wonderful?! It is completely possible to incorporate lessons into any class that appeal to the liberal arts.
How can liberal arts courses prepare you for the future?
Not only do the liberal arts help create and foster open-mindedness, acceptance, and even healthy debate, it can prepare a person for myriad professional (and even technical) careers and fields. What profession wouldn’t you need open-mindedness, the ability to discuss (and even disagree) appropriately, empathize with others, and be able to critically think about problems and develop research-based and informed solutions?
The point of this post is merely and simply to help reassure others that the Liberal Arts is an actual thing, and a valuable thing at that.
Start with these.
Here are two great places to start looking! Feel free to browse around my Teachers Pay Teachers store as well!
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I want to leave you with this. What makes our world so great is that we are free to think and share what we know and experience, and at the same time understand others’ perspectives. I am referring to pluralism here, which is based on the notion that there is more than one idea, more than one way of thinking. How beautiful is that? And that, my friends, is what the Liberal Arts fosters and encourages.
Hopefully, from this small snapshot, you have a better understanding of what Liberal Arts is, but do stick around and read about why it’s so important (especially today)!
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