I had a revelation not too long ago re: the liberal arts disciplines (including math, science, philosophy, rhetoric).I'll get passages from Engelmann's article posted soon, I hope.
The disciplines are the intellectual DNA of the professions.
Law and medicine are called the "liberal professions" because they derive from or are descended from the liberal arts disciplines. If you've had a liberal education, you're at a tremendous advantage when it comes to learning a liberal profession.
I've believed for some time now—because I think I've lived it—that a solid grounding in the liberal arts disciplines turns you into a fast learner in the world of work. Siegfried Engelmann has a terrific new article out on the ways in which teaching to mastery increases the speed of learning. A central reason why disadvantaged children are slower learners when they begin school than advantaged children is that they lack the prior knowledge middle and upper-middle class parents take for granted.
It seems likely to me that, for adults, a liberal education is the equivalent of the "prior knowledge" advantaged children bring to Kindergarten. A student who graduates college with a "survey" knowledge of the liberal arts disciplines combined with a major in one discipline brings a vast store of prior knowledge to the world of work (and family & politics & religion—)
Saturday, May 23, 2009
I've just left a comment at Robert Pondiscio's post "In Defense of the Liberal Arts" at the Core Knowledge blog: