Liberal arts education is a learning approach that teaches students how to think independently and develop broad academic and intellectual abilities. It rests on a multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary approach. Through liberal arts education, students get choices across streams, discover their true calling, and broaden their horizons. It provides a platform to learn how to connect and integrate knowledge and apply the learnings in real-world scenarios.
While the traditional education model in India has stressed memorizing and reproducing information, liberal arts encourage creativity, critical thinking, good communication, and a love for learning.
India’s National Education Policy (NEP), which had a revamp in 2020, has laid out a path for universities to adopt a liberal arts, discussion-based, and discovery-based mode of education. As a result, the NEP 2020 encourages a multidisciplinary education system that helps develop the creative and analytical sides of the brain simultaneously.
Here are the top five reasons why India needs a liberal arts learning model:
1. Interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary approach to learning
One of the main pillars of liberal arts education is the interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary approach that integrates different areas of study and exposes students to multiple disciplines. In the liberal arts model, a Data Science student can study a course in Music, while a Law student can take up a course in Humanities. This approach at an undergraduate level enhances the ability of students to understand issues from different perspectives and thus get a holistic and expansive intellectual grounding.
2. Proficiency in active learning
Liberal arts education comprises hybrid methods for teaching and learning, with creativity as the cornerstone. Team teaching with case studies and interactive classroom sessions is an integral part of liberal arts education. Active learning methods that allow one to take a lead in the classroom learning experience are employed, where students discuss, and evolve creative ways of dissecting the concepts, theories and methods.
Active learning creates a personalized environment for students. They get the space and time to process information and interact with fellow students and faculty. As a result, students also learn good interpersonal skills, oral and written communication skills, and the importance of teamwork.
3. Critical thinking capabilities
Educational institutions that follow the liberal arts education approach put critical thinking and fact-based problem-solving at the core of learning. Students are taught problem-solving and critical thinking skills through international exposure and active learning methods. In this education system, students understand the core ideas of the subjects they are interested in, learn to examine and assimilate information methodically, and form informed opinions.
4. Preparing students to become real-world ready
Institutions that opt for liberal arts help students get ready for solving real-world problems. This model equips students to be lifelong learners and adapt to changing global social, economic, and cultural realities. These skill sets attract future employers from top companies and firms. Moreover, due to the dynamic nature of liberal arts education, students also get well-prepared to tackle jobs that are yet to gain center stage.
5. Enhancing social responsibilities
Liberal arts education transforms students into well-rounded, curious, and proactive problem solvers. It teaches how to navigate complex and unforeseen global challenges. Learning about the issues plaguing the world from thought leaders instills a sense of responsibility among students. Thus youngsters eventually become empathic leaders who actively participate in community engagement and bring about positive change in our society.
Through broad-based learning and training to tackle problems through rational and critical thinking, liberal arts education prepares students to become intellectual leaders of tomorrow. They learn to evaluate problems from multiple perspectives and develop original stances. Liberal arts students not only learn how to solve problems but also ask which questions and problems to solve and why. It also helps deal with changes, complexities, and uncertainties in our ever-changing world.