The idea of a “liberal arts” education is often utilized in a way that confuses the actual meaning. The word “liberal” is to connote the freedom to consider, think, and reflect on ideas and experiences as an individual. This idea of independent thinking is deeply rooted in what it means to be educated, as learning is designed to allow people to think and construct an understanding of themselves and the world around them. The word “arts” does not only mean artistic expression, but rather the development of a skill. A skill is developed over time and through repetition and refinement and this continuous practice and application is found in learning experiences.
The liberal arts are fundamental to learning because they provide “skills” in multiple disciplines and exposure to diverse frameworks in order to be able to differentiate fact based truth from the propagation of falsehoods, how to define goodness to be able to contribute to a community, and to distinguish the beauty in ideas and things. Liberal arts consists of foundational learning in words and numbers as we use these items to observe the world and communicate with others. The root of all learning is found in our skill with words and numbers. When students possess a strong foundation in these areas, they will then be prepared to learn in comprehensive, interdisciplinary, and creative ways. Exposure to breadth of ideas, across academic areas, prepares students to critically think about complex ideas and engage in real world problem solving.
At Colegio Menor, we focus on seeing the liberal arts as skills. Skills with words and numbers that allow for quantitative thinking, scientific inquiry, critical reading, clear writing, analysis of information, research literacy, creative exploration and an appreciation for the humanities, fine arts and collaboration. And these skills, in turn, prepare our students for personal and professional situations that allow for continuous development and growth and provide students with an elevated ability to reflect on the aspects of goodness, beauty and truth of the human experience (see last blog).