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Education and scholarship focus on furnishing the mind. By contrast, training focuses on developing skills for performing a job. Education may exist apart from training, but training cannot exist apart from education. Education, then, must be a priority at any college, but especially a liberal arts college.

The desired outcome of a liberal arts education is fully integrated individuals who are able to think critically and soundly about ideas, values, and aesthetics, with the ability to apply the results of these investigations to all types of relationships. It equips students to consider fundamental questions: What is the meaning of life? What is true? What is just? What is moral? What is beautiful?

The appropriate delivery of liberal arts education will correspond to the desired outcome. It will be conducted in the context of mentoring relationships: student to teacher and colleague to colleague. Education will not be conducted within closely protected silos. Rather, it will be integrative and holistic, with colleagues working freely and respectfully across disciplines, traditions, and cultures in dialogue and collaboration with one another.

Instructors in the liberal arts will model integration in their living and in instruction, guiding students to develop a worldview through which they can clearly see, understand, and interpret life. In other words, liberal arts instruction seeks to cultivate people who are truly human. And, part of what it means to be truly human is creative expression. Therefore, the liberal arts both critique and give expression to human existence. Furthermore, both this critique and creative expression enable students to influence positively the culture in which they find themselves.

To summarize, the desired result of liberal arts education is the formation of what once was called an educated person: graduates who know how to live, not just how to make a living. This is the greatest benefit liberal arts colleges offer incoming students in the twenty-first century: the opportunity to be educated, to develop the spirit and skill of inquiry, to acquire the foundation for the journey of becoming truly human. But, training, not education is what Americans increasingly expect from colleges. This expectation presents liberal arts colleges with their greatest challenge in the years ahead.

The goal of a college “education” for many people is Continue Reading »

Institutions of higher learning identify themselves first and foremost as educational institutions. But, what does it mean to be an educational institution? What is education? In order better to understand the meaning of education, it is helpful to compare it to another valuable activity in which institutions of higher learning typically engage, training.

The noun “training” derives from the verb “train.” To train is to teach so as to make fit, qualified, or proficient (Merriam-Webster Collegiate Dictionary). Training focuses on how to do a job. It is related more to practice, though it is based on theory. For example, training is prevalent in programs of nursing, teaching, counseling, accounting, athletic training, etc.

The noun “education” derives from the verb “educate.” To educate is to develop mentally, morally, or aesthetically, especially by instruction (Merriam-Webster Collegiate Dictionary). Education focuses on furnishing the mind. It is related more to theory, though it results in practice. It involves learning a discipline and setting it against the background of the knowledge of Western civilization. It is grounded in the humanities, mathematics, and the sciences.

All disciplines have an educational component. In addition, all disciplines either have a training component (e.g., nursing or business) or provide the foundation for training that occurs in a different or related discipline (e.g., English or history). Education, then, may include training, but training must include education. Both training and education are important, but while not all university students will receive training, all students must get an education. Education must have priority, for there cannot be excellent training without excellent education.

While there will always be a tension between the need to educate and the desire to train at a university, one should not accept the proposition that one must choose one pole or the other. Both education and training are important and both are fundamental to the modern university. Nevertheless, education must be primary. For example, a university’s general education component must take pride of place.

Education, in general, and the general education component, in particular, pursues a critical goal: the development of fully integrated individuals who are able to think critically and soundly. Put another way, education is the means by which students develop a view of the world from which they can interpret all of life, a lens through which they can clearly see and understand life. In other words, educators seek to cultivate people that are truly human.

To be sure, education is more that the courses that compose a university’s general education component. Rather, education forms the foundation a university. Through education, university faculty seek not only to teach students how to make a living, but more importantly, how to live. Education equips them to formulate judgments about and make positive contributions to the key forces of cultural influence in our time.

So, universities must pursue excellence in training. They must strive to have excellent professional programs. But, they especially must pursue excellence in education. This pursuit is dictated by a university’s mission. It is what draws teachers to a university, in order to fulfill their vocation. And, it is what gives teachers hope as they gladly continue the sacrificial service of investing their days in the lives of the students with which they have been entrusted.

October 28, 2012 at Comerica Park. San Francisco 4, Detroit 3. San Francisco wins series 4-0.

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October 27, 2012 at Comerica Park. San Francisco 2, Detroit 0. San Francisco leads series 3-0.

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October 25, 2012 at AT & T Park. San Francisco 2, Detroit 0.

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October 24, 2012 at AT & T Park. San Francisco 8, Detroit 3.

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October 22, 2012 at AT & T Park. San Francisco 9, St. Louis 0.

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