A Liberal Education

From my perspective, historian William Cronon’s main argument was, in simple terms, that the goal of a liberal education is ‘only connect’. Throughout the article, he lists a series of ten qualities that he believes every person who is liberally educated should/does embody. Then, at the end of the article, he argues that the ultimate goal of all of these qualities is connection. A liberal education, he argues, gives a person the ability to connect with other people, art, sports, literature, media; essentially, a liberally educated person should be able to connect with the world around them. Not only that, but Cronon goes further to argue that it is impossible for a person to be fully liberally educated. Rather than an accomplishment, to be liberally educated is “a way of life”. Cronon argues we should always strive towards improving ourselves and making more connections with the world around us.

To support his argument, Cronon uses a plethora of evidence and examples. For example, one of the qualities he focuses on is speech. Cronon writes that liberally educated people “can give a speech, ask thoughtful questions, and make people laugh”. Personally, I find his arguments to be incredibly persuasive. I felt like I strongly agreed with a lot of the stuff he was saying about what a liberally educated person should be. I relate it to the idea of a renaissance man or woman. One who studies and is proficient in multiple different practices. Someone who can speak well, who can talk to anyone, who is well read, who deeply appreciates music and art but can also appreciate a great sports play. I almost want to say that I could not have put it better myself. That being said, I don’t think four years in college is enough to create a person like that. Surely, not everyone who goes to a liberal arts college has all ten of the qualities he described. That is why Cronon stresses the importance of making a liberal education a way of life, because you don’t just study for four years and become liberally educated. It is a life long journey.

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