Meaning of liberal
Fareed Zakaria, a columnist for The Washington Post and host of “Fareed Zakaria GPS” on CNN, has a new book out titled “In Defense of a Liberal Education.” In a piece about his book published in The Post, he wrote:
If Americans are united in any conviction these days, it is that we urgently need to shift the country’s education toward the teaching of specific, technical skills. Every month, it seems, we hear about our children’s bad test scores in math and science — and about new initiatives from companies, universities or foundations to expand STEM courses (science, technology, engineering and math) and deemphasize the humanities. From President Obama on down, public officials have cautioned against pursuing degrees like art history, which are seen as expensive luxuries in today’s world. Republicans want to go several steps further and defund these kinds of majors. “Is it a vital interest of the state to have more anthropologists?” asked Florida’s Gov. Rick Scott. “I don’t think so.” America’s last bipartisan cause is this: A liberal education is irrelevant, and technical training is the new path forward. It is the only way, we are told, to ensure that Americans survive in an age defined by technology and shaped by global competition. The stakes could not be higher.
This dismissal of broad-based learning, however, comes from a fundamental misreading of the facts — and puts America on a dangerously narrow path for the future.
What is the liberal education that Zakaria is talking about? As it turns out, many people don’t understand what a liberal education actually is. This post will explain it. It was written by Gerald Greenberg, senior associate dean of academic affairs; humanities; curriculum, instruction, and programs in the College of Arts and Sciences at Syracuse University. Greenberg is a linguistics expert who teaches courses in Russian and whose interests include Russian and Slavic linguistics as well as syntactic theory. He has published many articles and essays on a variety of topics, including areas such as stress placement, the syntax of various non-finite constructions, case marking, and language change.
By Gerald Greenberg
ARTS, SCIENCES, EDUCATION: They all liberate, are liberating, are LIBERAL.
There has been a great deal of discussion about the value of the liberal arts recently, but there is a much longer history of concern and debate about the liberal arts and liberal education that can be found in many sources. Frequently these discussions become confused and unfocused. One reason is that it is difficult to explain what the liberal arts ARE, but another is because there is confusion about what the term liberal arts MEANS. 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