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'Why Learn? Why Live?'

October 21, 1988

Wachtel argues the benefits of a liberal education without clearly describing what is needed to constitute one. Since liberal arts courses are a major component of all college degree programs, he seems to be arguing for maintaining the status quo. He does not seem to argue for an equal distribution among the arts, physical sciences, social sciences and humanities, which would be a radical change in the current liberal arts education that emphasizes arts and humanities more than sciences.

A broad education is essential for a complete education, but emphasis on breadth alone omits two other essential aspects of a complete education. First, depth in some field (in almost any field) is required not only to expose the student to the analysis and synthesis of ideas, but also to educate the student in how much there is to know in all other fields. Secondly, though "humanized days" and "enhanced lives" are important, without some rigorous content or without some contribution to the rest of society, the "humanized days" are wasted days.

The real problem arises when the other side of the liberal versus technical education debate is considered. Too many of today's college graduates are technologically illiterate--they were not exposed to the knowledge required for living in an increasingly technological society.

When a liberal arts student takes as many real science or engineering courses as the current engineering student takes liberal arts courses, we will then have a true liberal education--one that provides a broad education providing knowledge important for living in a modern society.

KEITH PRICE

Los Angeles

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