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Science today is considered ‘the done thing’.

The future, it is argued, rests with
science graduates alone. Generally, it is thought, those who are unable to rake
the grades to go into science opt for arts. I hope to change that thinking today.
Science without arts’ base is a limited and limiting field. it can not compare with
the liberal arts which provide the student with fundamental ‘employability’ skills.
According to the National Association of Colleges and Employers, USA, the
top ten qualities employers seek in a job candidate are:
1- Communications skills
2- Motivation/Initiative
3- Teamwork
4- Leadership
5- Academic achievement/GPA
6- Interpersonal skills
7- Flexibility/Adaptability
8- Technical skills
9- Honesty and integrity
10-Analytical/Problem solving skills
An education in the arts imparts the following:
• Ability to effectively communicate both orally and in
writing
• Ability to pinpoint and clarify problems and tasks;
pattern intelligence skills
• Ability to collect information from a variety of sources
• Ability to think without being ‘steered’
• Ability to be inventive
• Ability to develop ideas and put the collected
information the solve the problems
• Ability to manage change
• Ability to select important information while discarding
the irrelevant
• Ability to cooperate with others and work in teams
• Sensitivity and tolerance of cultural difference
• Informed openness to new information technologies
• Self-confidence and self-understanding
The most outstanding thing about a liberal arts education is that it
prepares the student to think of learning as a lifelong process, not just
a requirement to clear examination and land a job. The need is not
just ‘to get a job’: the need is to rise through the ranks within that job.
Surely the aim of any job is not to just earn money. You could
probably earn a lot of money selling second-hand items. The aim is to
grow and progress within yourself while making a noticeable impact
in your work place.
Technical education, especially in today’s world of rapid scientific
developments, can become obsolete within a few years. Skills
change, knowledge change, job requirements change. An engineer,
who passed his examination couple of decades ago, finds himself
redundant in today’s job market. Techniques and technologies have
changed so much that what he learnt at university is only applicable
in those countries and firms has not kept up with change. And these
are not places where a fresh graduate would like to begin his/her
career.
An architect of yesterday finds herself at loss with restrictions of
today’s design. The lifelong learning process and the basic
knowledge that the liberal arts teach, however, will never ever
become redundant. A fresh science graduate entering the job market
may find that the very narrow slot s/he had been prepared for does
not even exist by the time s/he enters the job market, philosophy ,
art, history languages and literature , to give just a very few
examples, are not areas that will fundamentally change. More and
more is added to these areas certainly, but then the student has been
prepared to constantly keep herself/himself updated. The graduates
are better equipped to ‘see things in a new light and make sense if
ideas in different contexts’.
Almost every profession in today’s world requires communication
writing, problem solving, adapting to new situation, analyzing
information and interacting with a wide range of people. Interpersonal
skills, along with the confidence to deal with the people, are perhaps
the most requirements in any job today. These are developed through
an education that emphasizes presentations, class-discussion and
defending essays/papers. The learning process in arts is much more
active and interactive. “The ability to communicate—to make sense of
and present clearly what appears to others as information chaos
across many disciplines—is critical ,say if one is to advance in a
career’
(hersh, 1997). High science grades mean little of the potential
employee cannot communicate her/his knowledge would-be
employers. The student of science is quite often reduced to the
calculator level, crunching numbers and formulae. S/he tends to rely
more on lectures , note-taking and passive learning .Where science is
more memorizing and understanding a set of formulae, arts is about
ideas and how to handle them. Where science is about black/white,
right/wrong, arts deal with the wide berth between these two
polarities. In arts, almost anything is acceptable so long as it is based
on sound reasoning. Arts are about connecting leaning to life and
about communicating it orally and in writing. It ‘prepares the student
for an increasingly diverse and complex world’. Not only does it
broaden the interest of the student, it actually helps make the student
an interesting person within herself/himself--- a tremendous boon
both professionally and socially.
The job market of the future will increasing rely more on effective
idea management and information. More careers will depend on 1)
critical thinking and 2) grapping underlying principles and issues that
underlie society. Science grads in today’s world consider options and
make reasoned based on investigation; business grads know past
precedents and current issues, so they can quickly step into a
position and perform quickly. The liberal arts grads are not limited by
specialization. This ‘well-rounded’ personality has been trained to
think critically and sensitively. This individual education has taught
her/him to go beyond the textbook into the real world. Ideas and
concepts here are anchored to life itself, giving them a timeless
validity. S/he has been exposed to a wide range of ideas, both
popular and unpopular. S/he has had to defend ideas, communicate
thoughts and come to a mutual decision in a group.
Most people, experts say, change career five to seven time in a
lifetime today. Being a specialist increasingly narrows the option of
the individual. S/he has been educated and trained to perform just
one job, which usually is highly specialized. These workers will fit just
one slot/space in the job market. On the contrary, a broad base
enables one to choose one’s job or change it if one feels the need to
do so. A very limited number of jobs are outside the field of liberal
arts. Liberal arts’ major’ possess skills that are transferable to a
variety of fields’ (LaMArco and Taylor, 1994).
It is not without reason that science grew out of what today are
counted as liberal arts subjects. The earlier scientists were trained in
the arts also. Their principles/dictates grew out or ram parallel to their
interest in the arts. Here are just a very few of these noteworthy
artists-cum-scientist:
• Aristotle : philosopher and physicist; invented idea of science
and separate sciences
• Avicenna ( Ibn sina): doctor, philosopher , scientist ,
astronomer , poet
• Charles R. Darwin: Studied medicine and theology
• Hegel: philosopher; emphasized historical understanding
impacting philosophy, art, religion, and politics
• Omar khayyam: poet, astronomer, wrote books on algebra
Science grew out of philosophy. To give an example, logic has
now developed as a branch of philosophy and mathematics.
As science became more and more specialized and narrow, it
drifted away from the restraints of philosophy. The world book
of encyclopedia 1992 says: “Although science and
technological achievements have benefited us in numerous
ways, they have also created many problems. The rapid
growth of industrial technology, for instance, has resulted in
such grave side effects as environmental pollution and fuel
storages. Breakthroughs in nuclear research have led to the
development of weapons of mass destruction. Some people
fear that advanced biological research will produce new
disease-causing bacteria or viruses that resist drugs. People
are also concerned that computerized information system may
destroy personal privacy.
“The harmful effects of some technological applicants of
science have led some people to question the value of
scientific research. But science itself is neither good nor bad.
The uses that business, governments and individual choose to
make of scientific knowledge determine weather that
knowledge will help or harm society.”
To determine how far science can or should go, scientist
have to be ‘grounded’ .This will only came from a background
which has dealt subjects other that science---subjects that
come from the real world and deal with the real world. To put
science to ‘good’ use, the restraints and limits can only come
through the arts.
Many employers actively seek potential employees with a
broad base and with the independent thinking vital to the job
market today. In this autobiography ,Lee Iacocca says:” In
addition to all the engineering and business courses, I also
studies four years of psychology and I’ve applied more of
these when dealing with the ‘nuts’ I’ve met in the cooperate
world than all the engineering courses in dealing with the nuts(
and bolts) of automobiles.”
If the liberal arts education leave the student deficient in a
particular skill, it is easy to hone upon it through short courses
or evening classes. Computer skills, for example, are
important in today’s world. Should this not have been covered
in full extent in the arts curriculum, it can easily be made up for
a short time if the student is truly keen to acquire competence.
This shortcoming is more than compensated for by the
subjects the arts graduate studies, where s/he looks at the
world and the people of world from different point of view. Idea
and beliefs that shaped civilization and eras over thousands of
years are examined, analyzed and solutions to current
problems sought in light of this knowledge.
I advocate your young generation to think beyond the
science and acquire a liberal arts education which will not only
make then a better person, but will give them more marketable
qualities for a lifetime.