In his article “7 Major Misperceptions About the Liberal Arts” in the “Chronicle of Higher Education,” Ungar worries that the liberal-arts education is taking a lot of heat considering that it is a unique and effective approach to learning. This heat is from various stakeholders who include policy makers, news media and budget-conscious families. This according to Ungar is threatening the well being of liberal-arts education.
According to me, the liberal-arts education is really taking a brunt as Ungar has observed as the government as well as many families are considering having their students take more practical courses that have well defined job description. The number of students enrolling for the liberal-arts education field is thus dwindling at an alarming rate.
Despite the importance of the liberal-arts education as Ungar points out, majority of the population have had misperception that are driving them away from this very important field. Ungar clearly points out and explains this misperception and offers some solution to some extent.
According to Ungar, most parents claim that “A liberal-arts degree is a luxury that most families can no longer afford. “Career education” is what we now must focus on.” This is a misperception that a liberal-arts degree is very expensive considering that one is not sure where he or she is to work after completing the program. Parents therefore opt for the so called “career education” fields that focus on specific and well defined jobs such as engineering and accounting. Parents falsely think that it would be more gainful to have their children focus on career education as they lead to high paying clearly defined jobs rather than liberal-arts education.
Another misperception that Ungar points out is that people actually believe that liberal-arts education graduates are finding it harder to get jobs. Ungar though points out that while this might be true of the liberal-arts graduates, it is also equally true of the career education programs. Ungar states that 89 percent of the country’s employers actually were insisting that college students pursue a liberal-arts degree so that they can be equipped with problem solving and analytical skills rather than being just mere working machines. Notwithstanding, most corporations’ presidents are liberal-arts degree holders.
Ungar’s points out yet another misperception that is inherent in the society. Most people claim that liberal-arts degrees are irrelevant to low income families and first generation college students. They say that the students from low income families should focus more on practical courses which are considered more marketable. The liberal- art is thus a preserve for the wealthy students and students pursuing a second degree. Ungar disagrees with this pointing out that that amounts to discrimination or prejudice that only the rich have the opportunity of acquiring high quality education. He also reiterates that those who are new to ideas tend to perceive and grasp ideas as fast as well as have the capacity to quickly and intellectually analyze the information acquired. Assumptions therefore that those pursuing a second or third or so forth degree are better equipped for the liberal arts education is a misperception.
Ungar’s points out another misperception that people claim that this is not an age to study the liberal-arts only. This according to Ungar is a misperception as the STEM fields, which include science, technology, engineering, and mathematics are in fact part and parcel of what is broadly known as “the arts and the sciences”.
People also claim that it is the liberal- arts degree holders who have put the country into the trouble it is now. This according to Ungar is a misperception. He claims that liberal-arts education has nothing to do with politics in the manner in which many individuals try to insinuate. Liberal- arts education according to Ungar focus on solving problems by focusing on diverging views and cannot thus be blamed for the country’s problems.
The assertion that other countries focus on specialization and that it is only in America that the old system of liberal arts is used is false according to Ungar. Most of the philosophical sciences that are often left out in American high schools are included earlier on in other countries’ systems of education thus the specialization in college. Furthermore, the Chinese who supposedly are getting more specialized have been visiting the USA to study its system of education due to its success level.
Last but not least, Ungar discredits the assertion that liberal-arts colleges are irrelevant considering the down turn of the funds available for education in America. He claims that it is unwise to have individual institutions take the grunt. Ungar states that “Many means exist to obtain a liberal education, including at some large universities, public and private.” He is simply trying to say that money should be an impediment to denying individuals to acquire a liberal arts education in America.
I tend to strongly agree with Ungar that the country despite the harsh economic condition require individuals pursuing Liberal-arts degree programs now more than ever. As Ungar reiterates, liberal-arts education mould flexible and analytical individuals rather than just mere working machines. It is these kind of individuals that are required especially in harsh condition to keep the country going with their innovations and analytical skills.
David Foster a professor at Pomona College confirms Ungar’s position that the need to have analytical and thinking graduates is of essence. He says that “ I have come gradually to understand that the liberal arts cliché about teaching you how to think is actually shorthand for a much deeper, more serious idea: learning how to think really means how to exercise some control over how and what you think (Wallace 202).” This assertion clearly demonstrates the importance of liberal art education in the curriculum. Liberal education is a good mechanism of teaching individuals how to think.
Barrack Obama, the current president of America, pursued a degree course in the liberal-arts field. He has more than managed to return the country into a respectable position considering the mess that the previous Bush regime had left us in. It is thus obvious that the liberal –arts education is very important to the well being of the country.
A general overview of all the arguments presented show that liberal-arts education should in fact be a compulsory field incorporated in other practical career programs. This will not only produce qualified specialists, but also specialist who will be equipped with rational minds to make wise and quick decisions whenever faced with any dilemma than just mere working human machines.
Wallace, David Foster. Writing with Authority: Students' Roles as Writers In Cross-National
Perspective. Illinois: SIU Press, 2006. Print.