In How to Think: The Liberal Arts and Their Enduring Value, Professor Michael D. C. Drout gives an impassioned defense and celebration of the value of the liberal arts. Charting the evolution of the liberal arts from their roots in the educational system of Ancient Rome through the Middle Ages and to the present day, Drout shows how the liberal arts have consistently been “the tools to rule”, essential to the education of the leaders of society. Offering a reasoned defense of their continuing value, Drout also provides suggestions for improving the state of the liberal arts in contemporary society.
My reflection on this course:
I was pleased with the anecdotal examples Professor Drout gave from his experiences teaching at Wharton. His overview of the Trivium and Quadrivium are worthwhile, but not in depth.
What I thought was most useful in the course was Drout’s criticisms of Liberal Arts in relation to the specialization required by today’s economy.
His discussions with students and teachers lead him to some important facts about specialization and The Liberal Arts.
First, decision making is the focus of LA, that’s a key skill in any field. Critical thinking is a competitive edge in the job market, science and business.
Second is the interconected nature of the Quadrivium. There are strong connections between music and math.
Last he discusses the personal emotional value that Art brings to a person’s life in terms of having enriching experiences beyond work.
Overall, I was pleased with the course and I recommend it to anyone looking for an introduction to the Liberal Arts.