The basic purpose of a liberal arts education is to liberate the human being to exercise his or her potential to the fullest. Liberal arts plays an important role in developing individuals and the world. When students attend liberal art colleges, they will understand the essence of humanity and will learn to shape and develop personal values.
For a person to develop, he needs to understand the essence of humanity. When you attend college, your view on the meaning of life changes. You live for your minds and spirits and not just for the security of material wealth (Urbanek). You start to do things related to your work as this is your interest. This will make you care less about material wealth and you will focus more on the benefit of the world than the benefit of yourself. Liberal arts means arts of freedom. People learn about things that interest them. This makes the experience of learning better.
Students will recognize the value of material things for what they are (Urbanek). They will start challenging tasks of design where they would learn how to translate ideas into actions. They will get to know the depth, flexibility and openness of their thinking and will also be able to recognize the importance of their thinking. Taking these ideas into consideration, I can say that liberal arts teaches people global responsibility, social awareness and self development, which is the essence of humanity. Thus, when the essence of humanity is known, then only a person will be able to acquire personal values.
The value of liberal arts was appreciated by the students in older times but contemporary students do not share the same sentiment. In 1900, 70 percent of college students in US attended liberal arts colleges but today fewer that 5 percent do. The idea has taken hold by educators that todays youth are more materialistic, less idealistic and more self interested than their predecessors (Richard). In 1997, Yankelovitch survey focused on high school students and their parents, found that 85 percent of the high school students and 74 percent of their parents stated that the goal of college is to get a practical education and to secure a job. Furthermore, only 14 percent of the students and 27percent of their parents were even familiar with what a liberal art education is.
Todays students tend to be career oriented, impatient and focused in material rewards (Kahn). People do not know that liberal arts can offer a clearer understanding that work embodies the values of courage, honour and responsibility. Liberal art colleges expose you to a variety of academic disciplines and an excellent background for future work. The education gives you the ability to adapt to a changing environment, communicate effectively, think critically and solve complex problems, which can prove very useful in everyday lives. As you acquire personal values throughout your college years, it is important to learn how to shape these values.
I believe that the central purpose of liberal arts education is to shape the values of people. The impact of liberal arts education on student value change is conclusive in determining whether higher education is effective in achieving this central purpose. According to a survey conducted at the University of California at Los Angeles, 8 out of 10 academics said they were spiritual, and 64 percent called themselves religious. More than half of the faculty members said that it was important to enhance undergraduates’ self-understanding and to develop their moral character and values. I think liberal arts is a great way to teach people their spiritual and moral responsibilities towards the community and world itself. Humanitarian values are defined by acceptance of value equivalency between ones own loyalties and those of all other individuals and groups, as well as respecting the rights of others to freely express similar claims and loyalties without infringement (Hollway).
Values serve as guiding principles in the life of a person or other social entity and thus, it is important for people to learn how to shape these values. Values are described as serving the interests of some social entity, motivating action, giving direction, and having emotional intensity (Hollway). Therefore, these values are needed for the development of individuals. When individuals possess these values, they will be able to use them in their society. Employers around the world are looking for people who possess these values and have the ability to use them. Hence, liberal arts students will satisfy these employers. These students will also find opportunities to learn more as their primary goal is not material wealth. This will help countries to better their economy. These values will benefit the students themselves as well as the world.
Once a person understands the essence of humanity and learns to shape and develop values, he will be able to make changes to the world. Liberal arts students have the skills to become valuable community members. They make decisions, solve problems and communicate the solutions to others. Liberal arts prepares these students to be successful throughout their life.
Urbanek, Jennifer. The EBSCOhost. 28 Oct. 2007 Kahn, Beverly. Co-opting The Market Place. Journal of Higher Education: p.19. EBSCOhost. 28 Oct. 2007 Richard, M. The Practical Path, Too, Can Be High-Minded. Chronicle of Higher Education: p.11. EBSCOhost. 28 Oct. 2007 Hollway, Michael. A Comparison of the Impact of 2 Liberal Arts. Journal of General Education: p.237. EBSCOhost. 28 Oct. 2007