Katie Sanborn’s inaugural column, urging Coastside teens and their families to consider liberal arts when they move on to college, sparked quite a debate online. Here is a sample.
** “You have it backwards. It’s my graduate degree in a rigorous physical science from a world-class East Coast science and engineering school that, in fact, allows me to view the world with a very critical knowledge-based objectivity. Without that in-depth understanding of a subject, any ignorance-based philosophical discussions are irrelevant.
“I don’t doubt the value of a well-rounded, liberal arts education. But I think it’s a mistake to assume that the only way to get that education is to go into crippling amounts of debt and get access to gatekeepers with lots of letters after their names. Schooling is one element of a person’s education. If you are an inquisitive, open-minded, life-long learner, you will have the positive traits that Sanborn is advocating for — whether or not you have an expensive degree from an elite liberal arts school.”
** “Katie speaks like a true liberal. The insulation she enjoyed while being in the education community did not expose her to real-life experiences. Most employers are looking for ‘marketable’ skills to enhance their business. Encouraging young people to pursue majors such as business or hard science will ensure a good-paying job. Having sufficient income will then enable that young person to pursue leisure activities that may include recreational reading for enrichment and enjoyment. Liberal arts are enjoyable to pursue but do not provide a measurable skill set. Lack of a skill set may result in a lower-paying job and little to no chance for advancement. The result will be the continuing cycle of the inability to afford the Bay Area’s high cost of living … a constant drumbeat in the Review.
“Why would Sanborn want to subject students to that possibility?
“Also, no mention was made of trade schools. After all, if Sanborn has a drippy faucet she will certainly not call a liberal arts major, she will call a plumber. Young people who pursue trades are certainly assured of a well-paying career and there will always be a need for plumbers, electricians, etc.
“I’m surprised that Sanborn was not open to this ‘diversity’ of educational pursuit.”
** “The commenter has fallen into the usual ‘What do you do when you need a plumber’ trap. Liberal arts do not provide a measurable skill set, indeed, unless your measurement includes basic intelligence — itself a measurable skill set.”