Back in 2018, we brought together multiple stories and perspectives on the place of science in the classical liberal arts tradition. In his article “ Why STEM Students Need the Liberal Arts” Bernhardt L. Trout Ph.D., makes the case for why those pursuing STEM degrees need a healthy dose of the liberal arts. “The original meaning of “liberal arts” encompasses those activities worthy of a free human being. Education in the liberal arts is education towards freedom, chiefly the freedom of the mind.” Trout’s words rang true then, and even more so today.
As many school districts close as a COVID-19 precaution, more and more students will end up Zooming into their classes. After the decades long push to have STEM technology in the classroom, we are now in a moment where technology is the classroom. There is no doubt that students across the nation will be assigned videos, tutorials, and games to complete their normal daily school assignments. And though many of these resources have value, what is missing is that interaction with peers and a teacher. Students will face the temptation to do something else during class, and the teachers will see the wandering eyes as they attempt to teach across the fiberoptic threshold. So what does it mean to be a free human being during remote learning.
The Classical Liberal Arts curriculum can overcome this novel learning environment. Reading the great thinkers prepares students to understand where our modern notions of science, freedom, and politics come from. Reading the words of Benjamin Franklin, or imagining the world of Newton widens a student’s understanding of the world, especially when it may feel that the walls are closing in.
Bernhardt Trout reminds us that: “Education in the liberal arts can liberate us from the escapism of video games, enable us to hear the quiet voice of sense amidst the clamor of social media, and guide us to stand above the disillusionment of daily politics. By going above and beyond STEM, we become better at STEM. Precisely because we live in an age of STEM, we need, more than ever, education in the liberal arts.”
To learn more about the place of science in the Classical K-12 world, register for the National Education Symposium – Teaching the Scientific Project: Investigation, Experimentation, and Shared Enterprise.
To read more from Bernhardt L. Trout Ph.D. and others contributors, sign-up for Virtue.