« Fling. | Main | Post-secondary education: Fundamental Catholic principles, part 2. »

21 August 2012

Comments

Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

Jennifer Fitz

Accounting is inherently philosophical. Since its whole point (properly done) is to figure out how to communicate the truth about a human endeavor.

Jen <-- admittedly, accounting theory was my favorite class.

bearing

There you go, Jennifer! That's what I'm talking about.

Rebekka

I'm ridiculously pleased you like my comment.

bearing

It's a great comment!

Jennifer Fitz

Okay and a funny story about engineering and faith: I think up crazy things. One day I told Jon that someone ought to start a small Catholic engineering school, a counterpart of all the liberal arts schools out there.

He said: Why? 98% of the Christians at the state university are in the engineering department. Between not having to take so many anti-Christian liberal arts requirements, and getting to know first hand how the universe works, and appreciate mans little place in it . . . he wasn't sure there was anyone too concerned about their little engineers losing faith at state U.

MelanieB

Hmmm... I definitely get what Rebekkah and you are saying about how nursing and engineering are both philosophical. But I don't think that is categorically the same as the training one gets through a liberal arts course of study. There is much to be said of a profession which leads you to contemplation of greater truths, I'm not denying that. But it isn't exactly equivalent to actual training in the discipline of philosophy, to reading and considering the great philosophical thinkers of the past. Of course neither is it at all incompatible. But I suspect nurses and engineers both actively benefit from more classes in literature and art and philosophy to help them draw out those connections and to solidify that relationship between thinking and doing.

The problem I see-- from the other side of the fence, granted-- is that utilitarian programs of education don't often leave much room for the liberal arts as a course of study. How many nursing majors are able to squeeze in actual philosophy classes-- not just medical ethics but epistemology or metaphysics, not to mention classes in art history, or Shakespeare or theology? One of my best friends at UD was a chemistry major who went on to get his PhD in chemistry-- something to do with crystallography, I think. Had he gone to a school which did not have a liberal arts core curriculum, we'd probably never have been friends because he'd never have taken all those classes in literature, philosophy, history and theology and we wouldn't have had a common language, so to speak. No common ground on which to meet. And he wouldn't have ended up getting a minor in Art History and working an internship in art restoration during his graduate school days.

In other words, I don't think it should be an either-or but a both-and. I think liberal arts majors do need training in practical skills and I think engineers and nurses and accountants need the intellectual disciplines that the liberal arts provide.

If you look at the classical trivium and quadrivium you see a progression from the more practical to the more abstract. But medieval and renaissance scholars were almost always engaged in practical manual endeavors alongside the more abstract studies. The modern world has lost those connections because of our increasing emphasis on specialization.

So I guess we're still left with the practical questions of how to both prepare our young people for the demands of the "real world", for the need to earn their living, to provide for their families, while at the same time ensuring that they are fully-formed in both the intellectual and spiritual sense. The problem to me seems to be that you really can't that kind of formation
into a high school curriculum. Or can you? Looking back in the medieval university students began working on their bachelors degree at 14 or 15. Perhaps we could seek to make high school-- especially the homeschool high school-- more like a classical university?

It's obviously really late and I'm probably rambling and I'm not sure how much sense I'm making; but I'm really enjoying bouncing ideas around.

The comments to this entry are closed.

Screen Shot 2015-07-19 at 6.07.09 PM
My Photo

I think I read something somewhere about this

  • Google

    WWW
    bearing blog

Become a Fan