Charter High School of the Arts Liberal Arts Academy is our most popular academic track where approximately 50% of our student body chooses to immerse itself in myriad learning opportunities, both in and out of the classroom.
Every single Charter High School of the Arts student, no matter whether that young person is enrolled in one of our performing arts academies, our multimedia groups or robotics, receives a solid liberal arts education. However, many of them choose to work above and beyond basic academic requirements to receive a superb, well-rounded secondary education that is often above and beyond the breadth and quality most typical public high school students receive in the Los Angeles area.
What does the term “liberal arts” mean, exactly? Here are a couple of good definitions:
- Academic disciplines, such as languages, literature, history, philosophy, mathematics, and science, that provide information of general cultural concern.
- School subjects that give students a general education and teach them to think, rather than those subjects that develop practical skills.
Ok, so what’s so special about the liberal arts? First, please read the following article that clearly explains why study of the liberal arts is so important to our children. Second, while liberal arts classes may not be extraordinary at many schools, we believe they are certainly remarkable at Charter High School of the Arts, and here’s why:
- At Charter High School of the Arts, we are committed to building a strong sense of communal enterprise that helps our students become significantly committed to cooperative learning, as opposed to merely competing with each other.
- We have an outstanding faculty devoted to helping young people develop their abilities and talents, often by becoming their mentors.
- We strive to provide the sort of education that includes dialogue and involvement with arts across the curriculum.
- We develop young scholars who can land on their feet, because they are not only taught to think creatively, but to also come up with smart-yet-practical solutions to every sort of problem, whether the issue is of an academic nature or a social one.
- Our broad-based liberal arts-centered curriculum is usually the best choice for a young student, because he/she learns to think, to adapt, and to communicate.
- Charter High School of the Arts is a positive learning atmosphere because of its own special ethos, what it stands for, what the students (and their parents/guardians) feel every time they arrive on campus.
Liberal Arts Education ~ A Foundation for Success
Editorial provided by Dr. Ernest I. Nolan, Vice President for Academic Administration at Madonna University in Livonia, Michigan for www.2011highschoolgraduate.com
A Department of Labor report projects that 80 percent of the children beginning kindergarten will eventually enter jobs that don’t even exist today! This startling projection has the ring of truth when we consider all the changes that have taken place in the workplace over the past 10-15 years: e-mail and voice mail becoming essential work tools; the pervasive use of the Internet to complete business transactions ranging from advertising and shopping to banking; instantaneous Web-based access to information on almost any subject; computer chip technologies installed in machines that we take for granted, from air conditioners to vacuum cleaners.
If work continues to change as radically as it has in the recent past, then how do we prepare today’s students to enter the workforce and become productive citizens? For one thing, we are witnessing radical changes in the entry-level skills required for jobs as they evolve toward higher-level skills, especially the skills of analytical thinking, problem solving, communication, computation, and working in teams.
To be successful in the workplace of the future, individuals will need more than technical training; the essential core of education, what we often refer to as liberal arts education, will remain the most practical preparation for lifelong employment because it promotes intellectual and personal growth and equips the individual to cope with change by being able to adapt to the workplace as it continues to transform.
But the term "liberal arts education” has at best a fuzzy meaning for most people. For some, it means all those required classes that stand in the way of technical training, which some people feel is the only way to prepare for a job. But, upon closer inspection, the liberal arts can be understood as the key to survival in any field that is subject to change over time. The standard definition of liberal arts education implies a program of study designed to foster capacities of analysis, critical reflection, problem solving, communication, computation and synthesis of knowledge from different disciplines. Its goal is to provide students with an intellectual, historical, and social context for recognizing the continuity between the past and future and for drawing on the human capacity of reason to understand human experience, to question the values dimension of human enterprise, and to articulate the results of this process of thinking.
These are job skills, and any employer would be hard pressed to turn away a person who possesses them. However, this definition doesn’t fully capture the rich texture of this brand of education.
First of all, liberal arts education puts the individual into the presence of the greatest ideas, most transforming concepts, and most powerful works of the imagination that human beings have produced. This is not important because it’s useful for making cocktail party conversation; it is requisite as an intellectual framework with which to understand and evaluate human events and interactions.
Second, liberal arts education is empowering; it provides rehearsal for life in the imagination; it liberates us from the limitations of our own experience and opinions by proffering alternative views, scenarios, and explanations. It helps us to appreciate the fact that neither the easiest nor the most complex solution is necessarily the correct one. We learn to think, marshal evidence, and weigh the relative merits of different factors before committing to a plan of action.
Third, liberal arts education imparts a set of values that are necessary in order for human beings to live together in harmony. Society functions only as well as it produces good citizens, and the concept of good citizenship is embodied by individuals who understand and take their responsibilities seriously, who vote, who actively work for the betterment of society, especially by giving service to others. Civic responsibility is a cornerstone of liberal arts education.
Helping individuals to work together despite their differences, a liberal arts education embraces concepts of diversity and multiculturalism, which result in values and competencies needed so desperately in a pluralistic society like that of the United States. It also prepares the individual to recognize the interdependency of all of our global partners and to appreciate the differences and similarities among world cultures. These are practical skills when viewed from the perspective of workplace diversity and the increasing emphasis on international business and trade.
Yes, technical skills might give one the "foot in the door” in terms of entry into the workforce, but a liberal arts education will provide the staying power, serve as a foundation for continuous growth and development, and lead to the professional success that we set our sights on. Viewed in this context, liberal arts education remains the most practical brand of education. Nothing else will equip us with the knowledge base, skills, habits of mind and values to function effectively and productively in the unknown world of the new century. It is society’s – and each individual’s – best investment for the future.