The other day, one of my teachers had us write about what we think a liberal education is and how it has translated to our school academics...
So to help you understand what a liberal education means, I wanted to share my response with you.
When I think of a liberal education… I think of having to take a little bit of everything, even when you don’t want to. But this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Sure I’m not thrilled about taking a math or science class, but I know they will only help me build upon my knowledge. Yet they do something better than just adding to my understanding of the topic itself. The classes build on my knowledge in general – they build on the connections I make, how I view things, and the general manner in which I consider my classes to interact with each other. It all comes down to connections.
Sure at a non-liberal school, you can sign up for the fundamental classes, such as art, science, math, literature, and so on. But you can… meaning – it’s an option. Talking with my friend over the weekend about his school experience at Chapel Hill is completely different than my experiences here. But in a good way. While he has already been focused on courses that add to his major, even as a freshman; I have been building from the ground up with the basics. These basics have allowed me to explore what I want my major to be since I had not the slightest clue when I started school. I have been able to take art and mass communications to test those out… But these classes are not the ones that drew me in. Rather it was the unexpected literature and language classes. Unexpected. That is the key word.
They say that a good fashion designer knows what the client wants before the client even knows it themselves. That’s how I think of a liberal education… having a sense of what the student wants, and needs, before they even know they want or need it.
Next semester I am taking my dreaded math and science courses… But throughout the classes I will be trying to make connections. Math and science have obvious links due to the need for equations in physics. But what is less apparent is the relation between physics and art. Yet there is one. That is what drew my attention to a physics class rather than taking yet another biology class. Physics is able to relate to a topic that I love, photography. In physics, the course description explained that we will be relating our knowledge to topics such as light, color, and cameras – all very art relatable ideas.
This is what a liberal education is. Putting yourself out there and not only hoping, but striving to gain knowledge while making connections. Because I can have all the knowledge in the world, but it won’t mean anything until I implement it somehow. This is what UNC Asheville has pushed me to do – implement ideas from one field to another… making constant connections.