Why is a liberal arts education important in the 21st century?

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Lorraine Caplan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

A liberal arts education is no less important in this century than it has been in any other, assuming that one subscribes to the idea that education is meant to prepare students for something beyond a job.  At the moment, however, there seems to be a dangerous narrowing of the educational landscape for the purpose of solely monetary gain.  Education is meant to prepare you to live a reasoned, rich, and full life, not just to get a job.  A well-rounded education exposes you to a variety of ideas, to the arts, to the sciences, to the social sciences, to the cumulative wisdom of the ages.  It teaches you the vocabulary of civilized discourse, which allows you to be a lifelong learner.  It teaches you to appreciate beauty and distinguish between mediocrity and greatness.  It teaches you how to make connections, how to think.  The person who knows how to do one thing and one thing only is going to find a job, to be sure, but will live an impoverished life.  I hold four different degrees in four different specialized areas in which I am considered an expert, but no liberal arts course I have taken has gone to waste.  Every one of them has enriched my life in some way, and I would not trade my well-rounded liberal arts education for a million dollars!