Thursday, April 17, 2008

Renaissance Men Rock!

If your kids want to make it in the 21st Century, they need to study the liberal arts.

I continue to work my way through The World is Flat. I'm not sure if I can encapsulate the theme of the book, but it is basically about how technology and innovations in the way we do things makes for a more level playing field in many areas, makes outsourcing jobs easier, etc. There are chapters on blogging, and how information is so easily available on the net. etc.

Anyway, he also addresses the problem of jobs since people in India and China can do not only manual labor tasks, but also intellectual and service work much cheaper (and apparently do a better job because these are high prestige jobs for people in India--and for other reasons).

Let me cut to the chase: He argues that if you learn only the nuts and bolts of your field, be it accounting, journalism (yes, even that gets outsourced), law, business, engineering, you are likely to find your self scraping by or completely useless. You need to offer something more be it a personal touch, higher expertise and proficiency, or innovation.

The education he recommends for young people, and the direction he suggests for America if it wants to compete globally is to promote the study of liberal arts.

One concrete reason for this is that (not an exact quote): Since the East can do left brain work cheaper, we must be able to do right brain work better. Innovation and adaptation to changing circumstances (who doesn't need this skill?) is best done by someone who has mastered more than one discipline (case in point, Leonardo Da Vinci) because such a person can take priciples and thinking from one discipline and apply it to the other. A person who has studied, math, music, literature, history, philosophy, foreign languages etc. is better prepared for right brain endeavors--though if you want to be an engineer you still need to study math!

He also has an interesting formula for success: CQ + PQ > IQ (Curiosity Quotient plus Passion [about learning and about your work] Quotient are more important than Intellectual Quotient.

So then all of you "grade grabbers", and utilitarians who were always asking us "what are you going to do with that?", on behalf of all liberal arts majors, let me say: Nanny Nanny boo boo, looks like you'll be the one flipping burgers!


Linda Robinson said...


Amy Giglio said...

I have never regretted majoring in English in college. It's nice to be able to write a coherent sentence most of the time.

Anonymous said...

Wow, it is good to know I might actually serve a purpose! I am so glad God put me on this side of the globe, because I would be the burger-flipper in China.


Civis said...

Linda and Amy,

Thanks for weighing in.


How's that?

My late lunch is over. No more blogging till 5!

Anonymous said...


Oh, because I am terrible at math, and the guy who wrote the book said that the east is better at the left-brained stuff. Don't you remember how I have to ask you questions about cutting recipes into halves and thirds?


Civis said...

Oh I see. Yeah, on behalf of all who know you, and for the public at large, let me say that we are all grateful you didn't go into engineering.