In Defense of the Liberal Arts

Fine Arts Lecture Series | Student Opportunities | Seaver College

It’s not as silly as it looks!

Art History is often held up as the supreme example of a totally useless college course. I took two semesters of it and wished I could take more. Those lectures were always well-attended.

It wasn’t going to help me “do” anything. It wasn’t going to put one more nickel in my pocket. It was probably as “useless” as that honors course on Dante that I took. Or those lectures on the Persian Empire by Prof. Maksoudian–no one missed those if he could help it.

Today “higher education” itself is held up as an epitome of uselessness–held up so by me, at least. What happened? “Everybody goes to college!” That’s what happened. Which means two things at once: 1) They dumbed it down for the millions of students who were not going to be engineers or computer experts; 2) except for those few who are enclosed in “STEM” like hermits, they turned college into a Far Left indoctrination factory.

A reader sent me an article which expresses it better than I can.

Do we not know that we shall not live by bread alone? Sure, we can learn many valuable, even precious, things with no help from any college. But there is something to be said for scholarship! For Shakespeare, for Thomas Jefferson, for Burke and Locke and St. Gildas on the Ruin of Britain. The collective experience of the human race has value. My stars! I’m re-reading Livy now–and the Rome of Livy’s time, and the earlier Rome he brought back to life in his writing–oh, these cry out to me! I can’t see the nooze and not see history.

The lack of a formal education didn’t stop my grandfather from operating a business, publishing a newspaper, and pursuing his own education at his own pace. Yeesh, that man was wise! (Raised six daughters, too.) Highly self-motivated. But I’m sure there were college courses he would have enjoyed–knowledge and understanding that he could add to his store.

The university is not your county vo tech. It was never meant to be devoted to Far Left brainwashing, either. I agree with the author cited above: If you’ve never studied anything but how to make a buck doing some technical thing or other, your mind will be practically defenseless when the Far Left wackos come for it. Livy can’t tell you how to fix your air conditioner; but he certainly can tell you how to recognize it when they undermine your constitutional republic. Things like that don’t change; and a well-rounded liberal arts grounding can help you understand them.

I continue my own education. No more college–college has pretty much destroyed itself. But the classics of literature, history, theology, philosophy, etc., etc.–they’re still here. You can still let them teach you.

Until they make a “law” against it.

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