What is liberal arts? That’s a great question! The term “liberal art” was first used in the 16th century, but it didn’t become popular until the mid-20th century. Since then, the word has spread across all languages as an umbrella term for different academic disciplines that focus more on cultivating empathy, creativity, and knowledge than pure discipline specific learning.
Some examples of liberal arts degrees include bachelor‘s degree programs in humanities (English, history, psychology), social science areas like sociology or political science, music education, creative writing, business administration, and journalism. All of these require significant time outside of classroom settings to be mastered and put into practice. But they all share one thing: They strive to develop your understanding of other people, yourself, and the world around you.
Another important part of many liberal arts degrees is teamwork. Students are expected to work with peers both in and out of class to achieve common goals. This relationship building is just as valuable as individual study and comprehension.
The most basic definition of the term “arts” comes from the Latin word arsis, which means action, performance, activity, or work. So, making use of this word, what are the actions students in various liberal arts fields do? They learn! By engaging in teaching practices, student research, artistic expression, and more, students are using skills of reading, writing, listening, speaking, reasoning, and doing to gain new insights and experience.
Reasons why liberal arts are important
One of the most fundamental reasons that people learn how to read is so they can understand what you, the reader, has been told about this thing or concept.
As we have seen before, reading gives you the ability to consume information and process it efficiently. You will probably know a lot of words after mastering just one book!
But beyond being able to comprehend large amounts of content, reading for well-being actually helps us feel better by engaging with different genres and disciplines.
Liberal arts courses include literature, history, art, music and other areas that focus on exploring complex ideas and concepts. These types of studies help develop thinking, reasoning and communication skills.
They also teach students how to evaluate sources and evidence, which is an integral part of understanding what you’re reading.
What about business? People who study commerce, finance or marketing can make money, but very few consider them to be ‘liberal arts’. However, both these fields require literacy, numeracy, communication and critical thinking.
So while some might describe business as not really being art, I would disagree and say it is! After all, artists create pictures using techniques such as painting, sculpture and graphic design.
Businesses need effective logos, advertising slogans and brochures to convey their messages and influence buying decisions.
Ways to practice liberal arts
One of the most fundamental things about being an educated person is learning how to read, write, and do math. These are often referred to as the three “liberal”arts because it seems like they can be practiced by anyone at any time.
Another important area of the liberal art tradition is studying humanities- these are typically categorized as literature, history, and sociology.
Yet another branch is what we refer to as the fine arts- this includes drawing, painting, sculpture, and music. All of these areas focus on creating beautiful or meaningful works that appeal to the senses.
There is also the practical arts- these include woodworking, sewing, culinary arts, and many others. The goal of these practices is to create something useful or productive. For example, if you wanted to make a table then your would use appropriate materials and techniques to get the job done.
The key word here is productivity- making a table does not require artistic talent necessarily. But taking the time to research good quality tables and learn how to build one yourself is still two very worthy goals.
Speak with confidence
After all, “liberal arts” is just another way of saying “the humanities.” The term has fallen out of use in recent years, but before that it was very common. Before there were degree programs in business or psychology, there were studies in literature, history, and other areas we now call the humanities.
The word itself comes from the Ancient Greek words ludus (ἀλάρωσος), meaning play, sport, or game, and gnorismos (γνώριμος), knowledge or science. So liberal art refers to an area of study that cultivates knowledge and understanding through reading and writing, as well as learning about cultures and histories.
This includes fields like English, sociology, anthropology, political science, economics, and philosophy. All these subjects require extensive amounts of reading and research, which are both literary forms. And since they focus on ideas and concepts, they too are considered sciences.
These types of studies take time to master, which is why they’re called liberal. A student who has mastered them can apply their knowledge to different situations and issues. This is what makes them valuable, even if you don’t work for a company that uses them! You can, though- studying them is a great way to hone your logical reasoning skills and enrich your worldview.
Learn to be a lifelong learner
One of the biggest criticisms of liberal arts education is that it does not teach you how to learn- what they call “cramming”, or learning for the sake of learning without any application. This criticism comes from people who have experienced college as something where you are constantly studying, but with little motivation to apply what you know towards your future career or life goals.
Liberal arts colleges and universities make students take many classes outside of their major area, which helps promote this kind of educational experience. However, some students may feel overwhelmed by all of these different courses and ideas and give up going forward.
Fortunately, there are ways to help mitigate this challenge. Two main strategies include: 1) using nonfiction sources to educate yourself about things related to your field 2) taking advantage of opportunities in and out of school to gain more knowledge.
This article will discuss both of these strategies in detail along with other tips for student success.
Cultivate your creativity
In today’s world, people seem to be avoiding art and literature due to an increasing lack of understanding what these disciplines are actually about.
Art is more than just creating pretty pictures or reading books that make you feel good about yourself. Some artists create works that have strong messages they want to get across, while others use their skills to depict beautiful scenes or patterns that influence how other people view life.
Literature is much more than simply telling stories with well-written prose. A lot of great writers incorporate themes and concepts into their work that can help us understand ourselves and our lives.
These two major areas of study — art and literature – exist for a reason!
If we were able to identify the differences between abstract paintings and representational ones, then we would know whether or not painting is worth studying. If we could tell when a story was written in real time and when it incorporated flashbacks, then we would know why some novels are considered to be faster reads.
Even if you don’t agree with everything about an academic field, there is usually something in it that people really like. People admire what they learn from your curriculum, and how well you teach these things.
There are many ways to explain why liberal arts education is important, but one of our greatest strengths as humans comes down to basic psychology.
We need other people. We depend on their knowledge and skills for survival. So when we educate others, we are helping them survive and thrive.
That may sound corny, but I think it makes sense. After all, most university graduates are professionals who work with and help other people.
Liberal arts degrees typically emphasize studying topics that take time to understand fully, so students leave school having made connections with other people. They have studied history, philosophy, literature and art, which also require engagement with ideas and concepts.
Studies show that being able to relate to and connect with people is a key factor in happiness. And happier people are more likely to be healthy individuals and a strong family unit.
Given that, I believe that giving people educational opportunities that promote understanding and empathy can only make society a better place.
A large part of what makes an art major or theater degree valuable is that they teach you about how to organize, understand, and create information from experience and research. This applies even more to business majors who learn how to manage people and resources in the workplace.
Art students learn how to recognize beauty and proportion and apply it to different styles and media. This transfers over well into other areas like painting or sculpture!
Business students learn how to organize and analyze information to make sound decisions. This helps them in their career where they must deal with numbers, possibilities, and conclusions based on data.
Theater students are trained in organizing information and communication for performance. They hone this talent beyond stage acting, including teaching others how to use these skills effectively.
These examples show that your general education should be focused not only on academic knowledge, but also transferable skill sets that help you live your life.
Learn to be a good listener
One of the most important things you can learn as a person is how to listen. You will spend lots of your life listening, so it’s important to hone your skills.
You will need to know how to listen in order to understand what other people are saying. They will tell you about their dreams and aspirations, and you will want to help them achieve those dreams by being engaged with them while also providing appropriate responses to show that you are paying attention.
In addition to talking about dreams and personal goals, people will sometimes talk about issues they feel strongly about. It is okay to agree or disagree, but it is not okay to remain silent unless you have listened to these issues already and understood them.
If someone brings up an issue they feel very passionate about, ask more questions to see if this argument makes sense to you and if so, why. If it does not make sense to you, try to come to at least an understanding of it before agreeing or rejecting it.
This article has discussed some ways to improve your ability to listen, and now you will learn one of the best ways to do it.