Liberal Arts Program Design
If there is one major lesson that we can learn living in this world, it is the fact of impermanence of everything. The world is constantly in a flux, forever fluid, as well as the reality that humanity must face in his day to day battle to live a decent, comfortable life. Everything is changing so fast. Applying the popular Moore’s Law that the rate of progress of technology is rapid (ebrary Inc, 28) in this equation is appropriate. Computers are expected to perform calculations that doubles every two years, it must be anticipated that what is useful now will be passé and outdate in a couple of years. If we would borrow a cliché to describe it, the appropriate one is time is changing. And during this time when a lot of changes are taking place, there is the importance and need that the programs in our colleges to keep abreast with these changes. Failure to do so will only lead to another failure which is a shortcoming in educating our students to prepare then to face the realities of the outside world.
Liberal Arts Education
In the case of Liberal Arts Programs, the issue stated above is more than appropriate. Liberal Arts founded by scholars whose aim is to maximize and develop the intellectual capacity of its students. The word Liberal in Latin means libera which means free. Greek philosopher Epictetus said “Only the educated are free.” Liberal arts education is the core of knowledge that gives students the power, knowledge and skills to think for oneself analyze and form opinions and become productive and engaged members of society.
A liberal arts education is typically inclusive of a core curriculum or required general education requirements. The liberal arts education can and often is a component of a four-year education with a specialization outside of the liberal arts education. It may also be a major unto itself where the focus is a well-developed knowledge in broad areas of subjects. Liberal arts education is best suited to small classes that encourage discussion, debate, analysis and communication. Discussion and inquiry is not possible in a larger lecture hall. Liberal arts education teaches students the art of thinking.
In terms of career opportunities, many professional begin their education with liberal arts and then continues on to graduate education to become doctors and lawyers, educators and a long list of other professions. The skills learned with a liberal art curriculum teach students how to develop ideas, evaluate thoughts and communicate with groups. Students learn about history, culture, math, science, writing and language.
The goal of liberal arts is to provide education on a broad based foundation that produces well-rounded students. The core curriculum for a liberal arts education includes the subjects of language, literature, philosophy, science, history and mathematics. This comprehensive education provides knowledge and insights with the goal of enhancing student’s skills and nurturing their ability to be well versed in a variety of subjects. This knowledge and skill set will lead them to successful roles in the work and social world.
The benefits of a liberal arts education program for the student and society at large are apparent. The vision which the program sets for each student is for him or her to be a well rounded person who can participate in the outside world with right tools to keep at pace with the changing world, especially in this age of Information Revolution. As for the society at large, the benefit it can derive from this program is the actualization of everything that was taught in the liberal arts program will be used by the students in the work world. Society reaps the benefits of the skills and knowledge students attain in a liberal arts program. Liberal Arts Program can be explained with a quote from Knoblauch regarding literacy. Knoblauch says that literacy never stands alone, that it is always used for something – “for professional competence in the technological world, for civic responsibility and the preservation of heritage, for personal growth and self fulfillment, for social and political change” (220).
The role of a Liberal Arts education is the fulfillment of every persons intellectual potential for growth and development. In the essay, “The Lost Art of Political Argument”, Christopher Lasch says that millions of Americans cannot being to tell you what is in the Bills of Rights, what congress does, what the Constitution says about the powers of the presidency, how the party system emerged or how it operates.(291) Understanding that the democratic system bestows on students his rights for equality, liberty and freedom, the part played by Liberal Arts colleges towards these goals is to empower the individual to exercise these innate rights afforded in a free society. Through the variety of courses offered by Liberal Arts colleges and universities, an individual develops broad bases knowledge, tools and skills. The student learns to analyze and express ideas. The student can pursue and personal development and progress as well as professional development and progress. The result of this educational process is that it instills pride and confidence in ones knowledge and ability to succeed in life.
The effect of this foundation and education on the society at large is the advancement as a whole. As citizens advance, society advances. As citizens learn, society learns. Advancement in the way society analyzes and responds will bring positive outcomes. Well-educated citizens find resolutions to challenges and solutions to problems. This is critical in the ever-changing world.
Components of a Language Arts Program
One of the changes that are fast shaping ttoday’s society is the advent of the Information Revolution, Any liberal arts program curriculum must include courses that will enhance the ability of the students to keep abreast with all innovation in technology.
Currently, the role played by information technology has encroached on almost every aspect of life in the modern world. Since the core objective of any Liberal Arts program is to prepare students with the skills needed to succeed in the world, inclusion of technology is necessary. In “Perseus Unbound”, Sven Birkerts mentions, “Once it dawns on us, as it must, that our software will hold all the information we need at ready access, we may very well let it. That is, we may choose to become the technicians of our auxiliary brains, mastering not the information but the retrieval and referencing functions” (637). We need to teach how to use the information, not just how to access information.
Most, if not all colleges have incorporated the use of computer into their curriculum. Students generally enter college with a great degree of computer knowledge, often even beyond basic word processing, spreadsheets and slide presentation. Infusing the entire curriculum to build on this knowledge is critical. Assuring that students are kept abreast of technological advances will lead to a more prepared workforce. The strength of a liberal arts education is that it can focus not just on the computer skills, but also on using the knowledge gained with the support of the computer. A liberal arts curriculum assures that students have the latest knowledge and skills related to computer and information technology, including software and hardware. The program then gives the student the ability to use the computer to gain knowledge, analyze issues, and communicate that knowledge.
Writing is a core curriculum standard for the liberal arts program. Writing skills are required in almost every aspect of ones professional and social world. Good writing skills are highly valued by employers. High schools generally produce well-prepared students in terms of writing skills, so many students arrive at college with advanced writing skills. However, there are groups of students who come to college less prepared. These may be students from lower socioeconomic school districts, students with learning disabilities or thy may be students for who English is not the primary language. Colleges are seeing all of these groups of students in growing numbers as a college education become more accessible to the public. Writing can be a difficult form of communication to learn. It takes much practice and discipline in order to put what one has in mind into written words. A good liberal arts program will assure that education opportunities are available to students from a variety of different background. Teaching methods to address the issues of all students should be provided. This requires professional education for professors who may need to learn the best methods for teaching writing to students.
Cultual literacy is based on functional literacy. Without functional literacy, we can’t reach culturally literate. Thus, we need to emphasize on basic English skills first. Every student need to take writng and communication classes. In this liberal arts program writing skills will focus on both narrative essay writing and creative writing.
There will be many approaches to teaching student writing skills. During the course of the required writing class, students will regularly be given assignments which test and advance their skills with a focus on grammar and narration. As students in the liberal arts program may be preparing for a wide variety of career paths, the writing curriculum can include writing pieces such as journalism, legal briefs, advocacy letters, technical writing and creative writing.
. As part of the growth of the student, the creative writing component will be designed to encourage creativity in all students. This area will allow for students with differing levels of expertise and differing interest level in the creative arts. The goal is to encourage students to learn new skills. The goal is to stretch student’s skill base and comfort level. The plan is not to make students uncomfortable or embarrassed by differing skill levels. The writing course proposed will take two semesters to complete, during the fall and spring semester.
Reading and Cultural Literacy
As part of the curriculum, the students will be given reading list for the two semesters. This reading list will be novels of classic and contemporary writers of fiction.
The main goal of this component of the curriculum is to focus on both basic and advanced literacy among students, dependant on the level they arrive at college. If we follow what Hirsch said in his study, the literacy rate in United States is approximately 66% (2). One can conclude then that approximately one third of the population is illiterate. The program then will aim at equipping the students with skills that can make well read, knowledgeable and able to analyze and discuss literature. Students will focus on learning to speak, write and understand how to convey and relay their thoughts and ideas to others and to the society they are part of, in an articulate manner.
The skills learned in reading and writing will be further advanced in a class on public speaking. Learning to speak publicly is a skill necessary in all aspects of life and yet one often overlooked is college programs. In addition to a class devoted to public speaking, other courses would be infused with oral presentation assignments. A good liberal arts program provides opportunity for cross training and skill development. The speech and public speaking curriculum will include broad based skills and techniques to improve public speaking skills. Skills included will include those needed to relax, such as breathing and visualization. Students will also be asked to present prepared speeches in front of the class, as well as spontaneous talks on topic given by the professor. Applying this method of teaching the skills required for effective public speaking will also develop the confidence of the student to fight stage fright and deliver persuasive arguments and information. . Students will be graded on their progress through out the course rather than against each other.
Society not only wants individuals who specialize in specific areas, but also well around ppeople. In order to assure a well rounded liberal arts education, students will required at least one classes from many different fields such as, math. Students will have a choice tot take any math class of interest to them. Math classes not only teacing calculation, but also help to improve special perception.
Like math, sceince knowlege can be applied to a wide range of possible career interests. Including artitechture, arts, medical careerscientific knowlege can help us to understand how this world founded and organized. Almost everything is related to science. Students need to have basic knowldege on science. Students will be able to choose from a wide range of science classes to fulfill this requirement.
Like math and scienctific knowledge, students need to understand the world form a historical perspective. This component of the education will include a study of the political systems throughout the world. Even people, who do not intend to work in the field of government or politics, need to have an understanding of world history and governments. This knowledge allows the students to become well rounded and be able to participate in discussion both in career and social settings.
Most of liberal art colleges required students to take foreign languages. However, the weakness in the teaching process shows n the lack of skills student have even a short time only. This program will be innovative in the coordination of the history and language programs. The goal of the language program is to build basic conversation skills in the foreign language. Instead of teaching the foreign language and foreign history separately, the program will combine those classes.. When learning a foreign language, the best way is to use that language conversationally rather than memorizing words and phrases. Also, it will help to understand foreign history better.
The grading system used in the college will be based in individual student progress. Students will be evaluated on their own work and progress rather than meeting the expectation of the instructor or professor. The advantage of this grading ssystem is the re-alignment of priority for the student to look at the curriculum as a means to enhance his skills rather than merely getting high marks. Another point of this is the fact that the skills and discipline that the student gains in the program will be practiced outside of the campus setting
The objective of any Liberal Arts program is to bring to freedom from ignorance. Each and every student will complete a series of core requirements that develop well rounded, skilled and knowledable people. At the same time, the program is designed with the primary goal of giving the student tools with which to face and participate in the outside world of the campus. These tools take the forms of skills like effective speech and outstandingn writing cskills. Students also gain the knowledge in the new technology changing every day. These skills will help the student be a better player and participant in the society .The strength of this program is that it complements the setup in a democratic society where each individual is given his right to pursue equality, liberty and freedom from ignorance.
Students are not required to have a professional study major in the liberal arts program until their third year. The first two years will be dedicated to a broad based liberal arts education. . Thes college will need to provide advaced knowledge in each field in order to allow students to major and gain special knowledge area in their remaining two years. . During these last two years, students focuse on their field by lecture, internship and finally research with professionals. After four years in liberal arts college, students will culturally literate as well as specilized on specific field.
ebrary, Inc. Computer Science: Reflections on the Field, Reflections from the Field. Washington, DC, National Academies Press, 2004
This book basically tackled the progress in information technology. In the paper, there is a need for it to be cited since the discussion is the fast pace development in this modern technology. The importance of the idea is to present that the reasoning of the writer in saying that there should be flexibility in the creation of curriculum concerning computer literacy.
Knoblauch C.H. “Literacy and the Politics of Education”. Composing Knowledge. Ed:Rolf Norgaard. Boston, New York. Bedford/St. Martin, 2007.
On his essay, he examines different perspective on the definition of literacy. There are many different definition of literacy, but he examines four major perspective; functional literacy, cultural literacy, liberal and critical literacy. He argued that each definition only tells what their belief of literacy to be. We can’t judge which definition is right or wrong. Also, we can’t have only one universal definition of literacy. One thing is that literacy can’t stand alone.
Lasch Christopher. “The Lost Art of Political Argument”. Composing Knowledge. Ed: Rolf Norgaard. Boston, New York. Bedford/St. Martin, 2007.
On Lasch’s essay, he describes how the public don’t care about public affairs than before. He mainly emphasizes that presses are no longer make debates, but provides same information. He argued that huge information only disturb to make arguments. According to him, the press is not information supplier, but creating debate places.
Hirsch, E. D. “Cultural Literacy”. Boston. Houghton Mifflin Company, 1987
The function of the information given by Hirsh in his book is to present the problem that is besetting the American population. There is a need for what the author said about the percentage of the literacy in US. At the same time, it is useful in the building up of the foundation regarding the discussion about the use and function of Liberal Arts.