Dancing around the educational issue…
In a recent post from @GoodMenProject they broached the subject of education which you can check out here: http://goodmenproject.com/2010/10/16/in-defense-of-learning-how-to-learn/
Both the original post and the above response caught my attention since I am starting production on a film/documentary covering the antiquating of many “modern educational” methods and the problem this is causing in our society as it becomes more technologically dependent with every passing year.
Stating liberal arts as being “dead” sort of misses the bigger picture while at the same time kicking the hornet’s nest of the very real overall problem. It certainly isn’t limited to liberal-arts, that just happens to be the zone perhaps most easily affected by it.
What’s really dead?
The “modern” educational system and the largely antiquated form of instruction that it uses.
It’s the system that is a failure and this is reflected not just in dropping attendance, but in the economy and general living standards of every nation that employs it.
With the rise of technological dependance, liberal arts have never been more necessary lest we simply become a machine society without a soul.
And somehow despite cultural inertia, it seems that some institutions of higher learning have recognized this and are taking remedial action so as to be able to provide an actual education. After reading Mr. Roth’s response, I can certainly see that he works along those lines.
Mr. Roth also makes a most interesting statement: “By learning how to learn, one makes one’s education last a lifetime.” And I think with that he’s nailed the actual problem on the head. Actually, pretty much everything he states makes sense. In the simplest of layman’s terms he’s talking about “learning to be able to think on your feet and rapidly come to the correct conclusions.”
But even after reading through his response numerous times, I fail to see how an education in the liberal arts actually provides a workable solution or methodology to the dilemma which he himself subtextually raises: “how do you learn how to learn if you don’t know how to learn in the first place?”
The learning disciplines he mentions that Wesleyan focuses on all seem spot on, and if it has been found that through liberal arts, these can be inculcated in the student; fantastic.
But by that point, isn’t it a little bit late for the vast majority of the new generation moving through the educational system? After all, what’s the actual percentage of students who even make it through high-school and get into college let alone finish it?
In some countries it’s less than 2%.
So it would seem that the problem with learning how to learn starts way before it hits the liberal arts/college stage. I’d be willing to hazard the statement that it begins when formalized learning itself begins.
The “death” not of liberal arts but of the modern educational system is the real issue. As long as there are free-thinkers, liberal arts will remain alive and a vital necessity in everyday society.
And may heaven help us all when that necessity no longer exists.