Sanford J. Ungar’s “7 Major Misperceptions About the Liberal Arts” is an eye opener to the many critics of the liberal arts disciplines in institutions of higher learning. Ungar highlights seven misperceptions propagated by most critics of liberal arts. The main misperception highlighted is the assumption that liberal arts disciplines are irrelevant to the economy and that they are a luxury to many families “Hard Economic times inevitably bring scrutiny of all accepted ideals and institutions, and this time around liberal-arts education has been especially hard hit (Ungar, 2010).” The liberal arts are not only expensive, but have no real or direct economic value to those who pursue them according to critics. Critics say there that these disciplines should be down played and more focus and effort be directed to the more practical courses like mathematics, engineering, accounting among others that produce working individuals directly into the economy.
According to Ungar, critics argue that it is very difficult for a liberal arts degree holder to secure employment and especially if the graduate is a first degree holder. They argue also that the more practical courses shape individuals career paths to very lucrative and high paying jobs.
Ungar’s response to these misperception is very direct and clear. For once, during recession, it is not only the liberal arts that were affected, but in fact the majority of those who lost their jobs were from the higher end job groups that focus on specialization. The advantage with liberal arts he says is the diversity and ability to adapt to different environments. This is the reason where most corporations prefer to have liberal arts degree holders as their presidents and chief executives.
The critics’ assertion that liberal arts degree holders’ presidents and leaders have been the sole reason America has been heading to the trouble it’s in now is unfounded according to Ungar. He says that politics and liberal arts have no relation despite the discipline of political science being under the liberal arts program. The reason as to why America has got into all the troubles it is in now is because of looking down upon liberal arts. People tend to get biased information from only specific sources thus making poor judgments and decisions. Liberal arts education enables individuals to acquire an understanding that allows them to accrue information from various sources before making a decision and thus it’s the most appropriate way Americans can get out their troubles.
Ungar presents a solution to the critics claim that liberal arts education is a preserve for the rich (Ungar, 2010). Claiming that liberal arts education is preserve for the rich is discriminating against the less fortunate in the society. It is baseless to insinuate that only the rich have the ability to pursue an education that enables young people to be innovative and dynamic. Liberal education thus should be funded by the government in big universities and the middle level colleges should incorporate the same in their programs in order to produce all round graduates. It thus should not be considered as expensive.
I tend to strongly agree with Ungar’s proposition that what America needs as a country is individuals able to think on their feet, able to innovate and very dynamic rather than human working machines. Liberal education thus should be accorded the preference it deserves if we want a country with individuals able to think independently. I although disagree with the assertion of students specializing in liberal education programs. Liberal arts programs should be incorporated to the more practical programs in such a way that we have individuals specializing in certain fields but at the same time emerging as thinking indivuals rather than working machines.
Ungar, J. S. (2010). “The Chronicle of Higher Education”. 7 Major Misperceptions About the Liberal Arts. http://www.goucher.edu/documents/http___chronicle.sju.pdf.