All of us over here at Lion & Ox just love liberal education.
We think that liberal education is for everybody.
We think that the object of every primary and secondary school and college should be to offer a liberal education.
We think that the time for specialization is after a liberal education has been acquired. Therefore specialization should happen in graduate school or medical school or law school or any other technical school, but not before one has tried his best to acquire a liberal education.
But you say,
“yes that is a very nice idea, but unfortunately we live in a world where one needs to think practically. Liberal education is very nice indeed, but we all know that the best way to live, pragmatically speaking, the real path to success is through choosing a career early and focusing on that career doggedly from at least junior year in high-school. And for musicians one has to focus on music from the time that one is three!”
Well both the Lion and the OX are here to tell you that this is a narrow minded self defeating idea. We are ashamed of you for even saying such a thing. It makes me blush.
Didn’t you read this, and this, and this?!?
And besides Mr. Laszlo Bock, who is in charge of all hiring at Google does not agree with you!
Here is what Laszlo said about getting a job at Google, (April 19 2014 interview in the New York Times )
My belief is … that among 18- to 22-year-olds — or people returning to school years later — most don’t put enough thought into why they’re going, and what they want to get out of it…It’s a huge investment of time, effort and money and people should think “incredibly hard about what they’re getting in return.”
…the first thing Google looks for “is general cognitive ability — the ability to learn things and solve problems...a knowledge set that will be invaluable is the ability to understand and apply information — so, basic computer science skills. I’m not saying you have to be some terrific coder, but to just understand how [these] things work you have to be able to think in a formal and logical and structured way. But that kind of thinking doesn’t have to come from a computer science degree. I took statistics at business school, and it was transformative for my career. Analytical training gives you a skill set that differentiates you from most people in the labor market.”
…Humans are by nature creative beings, but not by nature logical, structured-thinking beings. Those are skills you have to learn. One of the things that makes people more effective is if you can do both. … If you’re great on both attributes, you’ll have a lot more options. If you have just one, that’s fine, too.” But a lot fewer people have this kind of structured thought process and creativity.
When Bock was asked “Are the liberal arts still important?” he replied,
They are phenomenally important…especially when you combine them with other disciplines.
I don’t think this guy agrees with anything you think really.
You’re probably right – it’s a good guess that he doesn’t think knowledge is worthy of being sought for its own sake, which is a cornerstone of true liberal education.
But then there is nothing wrong with something intrinsically worthy (knowledge, liberal education) also being useful. The true religion should be sought for its own sake, but if an atheist shows that it makes a person happy, this should not be discounted because the one saying it is not a believer.
Similarly Mr. Langley is answering those who would dismiss liberal education because it is not useful. This is not the full truth, but you have to start somewhere.
This is great! Not only do you have a man who is in charge of hiring people for the ultimate dream-job saying that liberal arts are phenomenally important, but he also articulates that the purpose of a liberal arts education is to “be able to think in a formal, logical, structured way” and to form the “ability to learn things and solve problems.” (that last bit is a little Dewey creeping in there, but OK…) So, this is encouraging because not only is he A.) Not confusing the “humanities” with “the liberal arts.” but also, he acknowledges that B.) the ability to think clearly and well must be *taught* (though I have a slight quibble with the “humans are not by nature ….logical beings” statement. I know that he probably means to say that we are not born already thinking logically, but then, maybe he doesn’t know what the term”by nature” means. wait…what? hey! What kind of a liberal arts education did this guy get, anyway? Well, it’s the New York Times, and so I’m putting the blame on the reporter. I suspect a misquote! If the guy in charge of hiring at Google thinks liberal education is important, and he got hired at Google, then he must be liberally educated! QED!