BY SYLVIA KOHL
The debate whether narrow specialized or broad liberal arts education is better has been going on for years. It has taken a new level of importance now that the competition on the employment market has grown exponentially. Both types of education definitely have specific advantages and disadvantages. However, when one considers the conditions of the globalized world, liberal arts education seems to come out on top.
Specialized Professional Education: Pros and Cons
Specialized professional, also called ‘career-oriented’ education has been enjoying a higher profile over the last few years. The boost of popularity is mainly caused by the fact that these courses are ‘job-friendly.’ They produce graduates ready to join a specialized branch of workforce immediately.
This branch of education has also gotten a lot of political backing. Some officials even went as far as to ‘undermine’ liberal arts courses in their states. For example, Rick Perry, a governor from Texas, has initiated a ‘solution’ to develop $10,000 bachelor’s degrees in STEM fields. In essence, what Mr. Perry called for was supporting the students, who went for narrow specialized professional education. His ideas were supported and shared by many other officials throughout the US.
There can be no doubt that there are advantages to narrow education:
- Highly specialized professional knowledge
- High level of professional capability
- Knowledge and mastery of practical skills
- Ease of integrating into the workforce
On the other hand, the cons of this education include:
- Lack of adaptability
- Limited knowledge in general areas
- Limited job prospects
In simple terms, specialized professional education definitely produces top-quality experts in their field. However, these people struggle to adapt in the globalized world where the ability to multitask is vital.
Liberal Arts Education: Pros and Cons
Liberal arts education is vastly different from the specialized approach in that it tends to provide students with some knowledge in many areas. There is a common misconception about the term ‘liberal,’ which might be the reason why politicians are so opposed to this idea. It’s essential to understand that being a liberal arts student doesn’t mean that one has politically liberal views.
This type of education aims to give students a solid understanding of essential disciplines, such as English, math, science, and history. The main goal of such studies is to develop the skills of critical thinking and analysis. Liberal arts learning also encourages creative problem solving. This skill has a tremendous importance today.
All in all, the main pros of this education are:
- Well-rounded knowledge in many important subjects
- Developed critical thinking skills
- Ability to adapt to different situations
- Skills in finding solutions for a variety of problems in different areas
The main con of liberal arts education is that these students don’t have highly specialized proficiency in a single profession. However, as most of them go to major in one field after liberal arts solves this problem.
In the globalized world of today with its widespread use of outsourcing, this approach definitely works best. To succeed professionally, most people today require basic knowledge in a variety of areas. They also can easily find narrow experts to help them whenever necessary.
For example, a student planning their own startup needs to understand insurance practices. However, once they are ready to launch, they can hire specialized businesses, like Insurance BPO Solution to handle the actual policy. The knowledge provided by broad education will ensure that the young entrepreneur is able to choose the best business to outsource a task to.
What Is the Best Type of Education Today?
In the globalized world of today, having a solid grounding in many areas as well as the ability to think critically are most important. It’s true that being a narrow expert is also valuable as the world wouldn’t be able to run without those.
Therefore, the right answer is that both specialized and liberal education is ‘best’ is different situations. Therefore, a student should choose based on their personal preferences.
Sylvia Kohl is an IT teacher with more than 8 years of professional experience. Her main spheres of interest are e-education and she convinced that learning process doesn’t stop after years in school and university.