For the Liberal Arts, Rhetoric Is Not Enough

For the Liberal Arts, Rhetoric Is Not Enough 1

Tim Foley for The Chronicle

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Tim Foley for The Chronicle

Several years ago, a group of colleges held focus groups to discover what people thought about liberal education and liberal-arts colleges. The results were not pretty.

I sat on the other side of a one-way window watching two groups of 10 parents whose sons or daughters had just gone through the college-search process. Nineteen of the 20 parents had definitions of "liberal arts" that no educator would even recognize. They agreed that liberal arts referred to either studying soft,