As your student explores their interests and begins to discern what career or field of study they may want to pursue, they will begin to have questions about the significance of their education. They may begin to complain that their well rounded education won’t serve them well in practical living or the workforce.
Tools for Conversation
As a parent you need to have tools to respond to these complaints. You want to be able to show your child the value of their liberal arts education and even give them reasons to pursue liberal arts in the future.
While it may not feel that studying literature or history will give your student practical skills for the work a liberal arts education will instill skills such as communications, problem solving, and critical thinking. These skills will serve your student throughout their lives both in continuing education and future careers.
Regarding the infinite significance of civil discourse and problem solving skills, Edward Ray, President of Oregon State University, wrote for the Huffington Post, “In a country of polarized politics, a liberal education enables critical thinking and the capacity to put tough issues into a larger context. Such graduates will develop skills to help our country implement solutions rather than simply conduct arguments.”
USAToday cites a survey of 400 employers that found, “applied skills such as oral communication, critical thinking, creativity and teamwork ‘trump basic knowledge and skills, such as reading comprehension and mathematics,’ for career success.”These are the types of skills that a liberal arts education teaches students.
STEM and Liberal Arts
Science, technology, engineering and mathematics or STEM training and careers are currently being strongly pushed at all educational levels. However, a congressional report found that a liberal arts education is also still very significant and should also taught at all levels of education. Time quotes the report stating, “Both areas are critical to producing citizens who can participate effectively in our democratic society, become innovative leaders and benefit from the spiritual enrichment that the contemplation of ethics, morals, aesthetics and the great ideas over time can provide.”
Students should be encouraged to pursue their interests and passions. For some students that will be in a STEM field, other students will be led to liberal arts fields. Having a well rounded education that introduces students to all areas of study including liberal arts will help them make those decisions.
In addition to making choices about fields of study or careers, liberal arts will give students the critical thinking skills and communication skills necessary to succeed in any area of study. Every student will benefit from being able to solve problems and clearly and effectively communicate solutions.
Exposure to liberal arts in high school, while less concrete than technical training, will give students the skills they need to be successful in all areas of life. Many of the world’s successful CEO’s, thought leaders and innovators have degrees in liberal arts. Even doctors and engineers will face ethical questions or need to present research. Delving into the human experience through a liberal arts education will prepare students to face those situations with confidence.
Seeing the Significance
The next time your child complains to you about reading a dull novel or memorizing ancient history. You can use these facts and quotes to help them discover the long-term significance of what they are learning now. Help your student discover what they find fascinating and work with them to find ways to explore those areas more. A liberal arts education will also help develop the reading and writing skills necessary to excel on the SAT and while writing essays for college applications.
Encouraging your child in all areas of study now will open up so many more opportunities for them as an adult.
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