Why A Liberal Arts Education Has a Lot to Offer
By Mahnoor Jalal
Robin Williams, in the movie Dead Poets Society, aptly explains his love for poetry and philosophy by stating;
“We don’t read and write poetry because it’s cute. We read and write poetry because we are members of the human race. And the human race is filled with passion. And medicine, law, business, engineering, these are noble pursuits and necessary to sustain life. But poetry, beauty, romance, love, these are what we stay alive for.”
His main aim was to educate the students to pursue what they wanted to do rather than to cave into society and/or family pressure in doing the right thing. Hence, girls & guys, ditch the perusal for medicine, engineering & law degrees for a liberal arts education – that lets you be whoever you want to be!
Here are 5 reasons why you should pursue a liberal education!
1.It encourages creative and critical thinking
In our school years, we are taught to think in a particular manner, dress according to what custom dictates and think in a certain way for which our reward is acceptance by society. Bertolt Brecht, the famous German playwright explained it the best when he said in a society where art and culture are not taught to students, they are devoid of creative freedom and end up becoming hollowed vases. A liberal arts degree guides people to explore their own interests, passions and provides them a chance to be critical and creative. Various subjects such as literature, sociology, politics, international relations etcetera allows us to develop interdisciplinary insight into the human experience from multiple perspectives.
2. Working with a diverse group of individuals
If everyone is pursuing one thing (such as a degree in medicine) those batches are very large. Having a smaller batch of students studying together is highly beneficial because it allows us to quickly get to know one another, and develop the intimate companionship on campus. This is helpful when you’re forming study groups or need any guidance on courses or assignments. Not only that, you become more cognizant of other individuals and varying views. You learn how to respect these views, even if you do not agree with them. Diversity brings with it diverse relationships, and that helps you become the best of whom you can be.
3. Better relationship with faculty
Liberal Art colleges have a small class size that results in a small student teacher ratio. Teachers here are more attentive to the needs of each student and tend to have a better understanding of each student’s learning capabilities as well as their interests, passions and challenges. Such a relationship with a professor is imperative when pursuing graduate studies or career opportunities. It ensures a reference letter with great insight into who you are and also provides a mentor who can better guide you based on their knowledge of you.
4. Exposure to cool new things
In a large college campus, classroom experiences are difficult to keep up with because of the large number of students. But within a liberal arts degree, teaching methods are more relaxed, and students do not simply learn through excessive note taking or listening to the droning voice of a teacher. They are allowed to use creative concepts such as watching movies, engaging and networking with guest lecturers or even suggesting books of their choice. Its takes the concept of ‘homework’ away which makes work seem like a burden, and turns our degree into something we’re passionate about.
5. Social Responsibility
Recent research shows that the emphasis of a liberal arts education in Pakistan has reached an all-time low. We live in an era emphasized by corrupt leaders, climate change and religious riots where it’s incredibly important that students (regardless of the degree they are pursuing) were taught courses that would encourage them to think critically and to work for the greater good. A liberal arts degree engages its students into looking for better ways to understand themselves through which they will have a more harmonious relationship with the world. Especially in a country like Pakistan where sectarian violence still exists at large and the suicide rate among college students have started to rise, it is important now more than ever that schools as well as colleges make it mandatory to include degrees such as philosophy or literature which encourage students to seek peace within themselves, and provide them with deeper insight in the ways the world works. This insight could then assist them to become better and contributing members in society.
We need to change whats written below as it doesn’t relate to the heading
you learn to work with different people and in teams. Alot of group projects etc. You also learn to respect their views.