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What Value Liberal Arts?

by Miki Saxon

https://www.flickr.com/photos/infomastern/15102671073

I constantly read/hear that if you want your kids to have a good life focus on a purely STEM curriculum and they’ll be home free.

Moreover, if they are great at coding they don’t even need college.

While it may be true, at least at this point in time, that they can get a good job if they have strong coding skills, what they are unlikely to get is a promotion that takes them beyond coding, whether in a technical or leadership/management role.

Pulitzer Prize winner (twice) Nicholas Kristof, a columnist for The New York Times, with 1.4 million followers on Twitter, 1.3 million followers on Google+ and 600,000 followers on Facebook (click ‘more’ to see his bio) sums up the value of a humanities, AKA, liberal arts, degree 1, 2, 3.

First, liberal arts equip students with communications and interpersonal skills that are valuable and genuinely rewarded in the labor force, especially when accompanied by technical abilities.

My second reason: We need people conversant with the humanities to help reach wise public policy decisions, even about the sciences.

Third, wherever our careers lie, much of our happiness depends upon our interactions with those around us, and there’s some evidence that literature nurtures a richer emotional intelligence.

Even the most rabid coders don’t want to do it for 40 years.

But if your knowledge of society is limited to code and your ability to interact with others is negligible, then you are left with little choice.

Even a degree in STEM or business won’t give you the broad outlook or emotional intelligence it takes to be promoted, let alone start a successful company.

The best way to assure yourself a bright future, whether you decide to code or earn a “useful” degree, is to patronize your library as so many “self-made” folks did/do

Stay away from your area of expertise, instead wander sections of which you have no knowledge, select books randomly and read at every opportunity.

Image credit: Susanne Nilsson

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