Bolton’s Bias: Thank you Fareed Zakaria

Opinion Editor Will Bolton discusses his opinion with anyone who will listen, in person. This column gives him a place to do it where people can escape from his tirades on everything from school programs to American politics by just putting the article down—although given a chance they probably won’t want to.


Fareed Zakaria recently wrote a book entitled “In Defense of a Liberal Education.” He defends the studies of English, communication, philosophy, and all other areas of study that fall under the umbrella of a liberal education. Zakaria has drawn attention to one of the most harmful developments in schools: the abandonment of a liberal education.

The recent mania over STEM programs has had an incredibly adverse effect on those attempting to learn humanities and advanced writing skills. Well-rounded educations have taken a backseat, as students focus on one-dimensional educations and try to learn what some claim are more marketable skills: engineering, chemistry, computer sciences, and other STEM subjects.

This national trend is clear from the decline of humanities and liberal arts programs at America’s top universities. According to reporting done by the New York Times, Harvard has had a 20 percent decline in humanity majors over the last decade. The same article reported that due to low numbers of students interested in the humanities, Stanford and Princeton have recently adopted special admission programs that attempt to recruit more humanity-minded applicants.

Unfortunately, the focus away from a liberal education is not just at the highest level of education.

JC has recently created a STEM program with no counterpart focused on highlighting the humanities. It is even clearer what the school’s priorities are, given that students can earn diplomas with distinction in science but not history. The Fine Arts diploma is a start but it only covers a small segment of liberal education.

All of these issues are symptoms of a society with contempt for the humanities. It is not uncommon for skills such as critical reading and writing to be called useless by JC students. So are those comments just an isolated anecdote? Just something that I heard?

Given the previous examples, clearly not. This problem is so serious because liberal educations make a strong society. The ability to clearly communicate, think critically, use common sense, and learn from previous generations through reading are the staples of a healthy society and economy. In a predominantly service sector economy such as ours 41% of the jobs have to do with interaction between people according to Liberal educations are best at preparing students for such jobs because they teach students communication and eloquence.

These educations are the hallmark of leaders, lawyers, teachers, writers, poets, philosophers, artists, musicians, military officers, philosophers, lobbyists and so many more professions.

Even one of the most influential scientists in the world, Rachel Carson, was as much writer as she was scientist. Science and technology is of no use if the breakthroughs cannot be widely understood and known by the public.

Liberal educations are of paramount importance for strong societies and individuals. If you still don’t believe that, think about the education of the most powerful men in the world over the last 200 years. Heres a hint: half were lawyers.

Will Bolton is an Opinion Editor for The Patriot and