Saturday, October 15, 2011

Florida Governor Rick Scott discounts the value of a Liberal Arts education.

As a Liberal Arts (History) major I am appalled at Rick Scott's most recent claims related to Liberal Arts Majors and the workforce. The article linked above cites:

In addition to rethinking faculty security, Scott said he hopes to move more funding to programs that promise the best job opportunities after graduation, namely the science, technology, engineering and math departments, or "STEM" disciplines. This would ideally draw more high-tech companies to the state, thereby increasing job opportunities.

The governor cited liberal arts degrees like anthropology and psychology as examples of those with poor job prospects, saying he hopes to come up with more ways to incentivize students to pursue the STEM disciplines while discouraging them from liberal arts tracks.

A liberal arts degree is important and students who are studious, serious and determined will not only do well in their liberal arts majors but they will also be successful in the workforce. The liberal arts offers a well-rounded education and graduates may entertain many opportunities and a wide variety of professions that may or may not be related to their major. While an adequate income is important, young people should be entering majors that match their personalities, goals and career objectives as there is no sense in choosing a major that may earn an individual more income but in the end will not be fulfilling and interesting. After all we're not talking about educating people for jobs, we are educating them and preparing them for careers. There is a difference between a job and a career.

Wesleyan College President and Huffington Post Contributor Michael Roth did an excellent job explaining the value of a Liberal Arts education in his 2008 piece titled, What's a Liberal Arts Education Good For?.

Governor Scott should not be discounting any major, rather he should be encouraging students to do their research, find the major which best suits them (not necessarily the one which earns the highest income) and investigate all opportunities available for using the knowledge they gain in their education so that can be not only a productive member of the workforce, but be engaged in a career which is perfectly suited for them. 

The kind of workforce that is ideal is one in which the individuals employed in it are well-suited for their occupations. Individuals employed in interesting and challenging occupations which match their personalities, who have the opportunity to use their knowledge and experience, stay employed longer and are more productive in their occupations. This benefits the individual and his/her family, the employer and its stockholders/investors as well as the community, economy, and society as a whole.

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