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a liberal education
may 4, 1951
by margaret anderson

the college student is always striving and searching for something, and whether consciously of unconsciously, he isn't always certain just what it is. each is searching for something different and each goes about it in a different way. what we are seeking is a happier, richer life., and by the help of a liberal arts college we hope to be able to find a richer life, with relative security based upon our knowledge and ability to meet all situations. there are many definition of our system o liberal arts and some philosophers and educators even say it is not a real education at all. presumably, a liberal arts course will send us out of the university in four years, capable of thinking rationally, reading clearly and critically and without prejudices ; well prepared to assume leading and responsible positions in our communities, as active and useful citizens. having had this liberal education, and through living with a variety of people, we will naturally be concerned with our fellow man, doing all we can to help the poor, combat prejudice, and teach people, by doing, to live unselfishly. we will stress individuality, and the significance and benefits of higher education, without being arrogantly superior about it.

but here the whole fine picture is shattered. because we ourselves are individual human beings, we are not always considerate of our fellow man, and because we are concerned with ourselves first of all, we become selfish. being selfish is being narrow-minded, and we then become incapable of thinking clearly and understanding the overall purpose of a liberal education. to achieve this liberal education, we take a variety of courses, under the system of basic skills and core courses. we study government and history to become intelligent, informed citizens. while training for our vocation, we study art, literature, music or the theatre. physical education is obviously necessary for our greater enjoyment of the outdoors and recreation for our leisure time. interspersed with courses of biology, physics, chemistry or geology are many campus activities which are essential in the creation of a well-rounded college graduate.

so we attend college for four years - attending and cutting classes as we please - griping if we are required to attend class, studying as little as possible, and just never finding time to pursue unassigned reading, yet still having time for parties , picnics, and "beer busts". we gripe about core courses and basic skills, prerequisites and required courses ; too many exams and dull teachers. nevertheless, these direct us in our search for a broad educational background., and what are we here for ? why do we struggle to attend college ? we have a duty - to use this experience to advantage for enriching our lives. but this first duty is essentially a selfish one, and we must go on form there, using it to better our world, by creating beauty or furthering the study and appreciation of beauty. that's why we study art, music an literature ; government, sociology and psychology.

we expect this liberal equation to be poured over us, so we may passively accept it. do we hate learning so much that no-cut rules must be enforced to prevent excessive absences ? much of the material we study could be studied without attending classes - many great people have done it - but why not attend, since we are here in a college which uses this system ? the teachers are there to guide our effort into the worthwhile paths which will mean the most to us.

to a certain extent, that's what a liberal education is - feeling about on our own - under the direction of those wiser than we. since most of us are uncertain about our future, and searching about for a philosophy of life, we should take advantage of all aspects of our culture, studying others' analyses and philosophies of life. history tells us why a nation acts as it does, while psychology reveals individual reaction and background. religion and science are strong conflicting forces in our society, which have been responsible for great literature, wars and complete changes in civilization. music is a force which, although not inspiring nations, has moved men to do great things.

we won't all be great men and women, but these things which we study in a liberal arts curriculum bring us to a greater understanding of the world we live in. and from this understanding, we may find what we are seeking - a happier and richer life.

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