In online Defense of wholesale a Liberal Education online

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CNN host and best-selling author Fareed Zakaria argues for a renewed commitment to the world’s most valuable educational tradition.

The liberal arts are under attack. The governors of Florida, Texas, and North Carolina have all pledged that they will not spend taxpayer money subsidizing the liberal arts, and they seem to have an unlikely ally in President Obama. While at a General Electric plant in early 2014, Obama remarked, "I promise you, folks can make a lot more, potentially, with skilled manufacturing or the trades than they might with an art history degree." These messages are hitting home: majors like English and history, once very popular and highly respected, are in steep decline.

"I get it," writes Fareed Zakaria, recalling the atmosphere in India where he grew up, which was even more obsessed with getting a skills-based education. However, the CNN host and best-selling author explains why this widely held view is mistaken and shortsighted.

Zakaria eloquently expounds on the virtues of a liberal arts education―how to write clearly, how to express yourself convincingly, and how to think analytically. He turns our leaders'' vocational argument on its head. American routine manufacturing jobs continue to get automated or outsourced, and specific vocational knowledge is often outdated within a few years. Engineering is a great profession, but key value-added skills you will also need are creativity, lateral thinking, design, communication, storytelling, and, more than anything, the ability to continually learn and enjoy learning―precisely the gifts of a liberal education.

Zakaria argues that technology is transforming education, opening up access to the best courses and classes in a vast variety of subjects for millions around the world. We are at the dawn of the greatest expansion of the idea of a liberal education in human history.

Review

"Smart."
Nicholas Kristof, New York Times

"An accessible, necessary defense of an idea under siege."
New York Times Book Review

" In Defense of a Liberal Education brilliantly and provocatively argues that the university is much more than a vocational school. The flight from the liberal arts is leaving us impoverished. Zakaria''s book couldn''t have come at a more valuable moment."
Malcolm Gladwell

About the Author

Fareed Zakaria is the host of CNN’s flagship international affairs show, Fareed Zakaria GPS, as well as weekly columnist for the Washington Post, and the best-selling author of The Post-American World and The Future of Freedom.

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4.5 out of 54.5 out of 5
493 global ratings

Top reviews from the United States

P.W.A.
4.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Great short read, but not 100% convincing
Reviewed in the United States on June 2, 2018
Technically, I give this book a 3.5 score. I did like it and it was worth the time. It''s well written and it''s short. The case Zakaria argues is simple: is college worth it? For the most part, he has some good ideas and evidence of college grad value. However, it''s just not... See more
Technically, I give this book a 3.5 score. I did like it and it was worth the time. It''s well written and it''s short. The case Zakaria argues is simple: is college worth it? For the most part, he has some good ideas and evidence of college grad value. However, it''s just not quite enough to convince me that it should be held in such high esteem.

Don''t get me wrong. I have two master degrees and I thought college was valuable. However, my student debt and current job would argue the opposite. We''re all wondering about the true value of a 4-year degree given the non-stop tuition hikes and questionable job prospects post-graduation. If you had a child today, chances are by the time they''re 18 you will be staring down $300,000+ in college tuition for a decent school. That''s where tuition and the economy is going these days according to the experts. That''s a lot of money to spend on a speculative future.
I think Zakaria''s big task was to give solutions or options to make college a good choice. He needed to jump more into the intrinsic and extrinsic value. His quote about Jeff Bezos needing execs that can write well was a step towards this. People need to be T-shaped workers: a little width (broad knowledge of related subjects) and quite deep (narrow, specialized knowledge one masters in that field).

Elon Musk has a better answer. I know that personal accounts are hardly good evidence, but the man runs four history-making companies. There is some value in this. He writes:

“It is important to view knowledge as sort of a semantic tree — make sure you understand the fundamental principles, i.e., the trunk and big branches, before you get into the leaves/details or there is nothing for them to hang on to.”

If liberal arts colleges and Zakaria expanded on that, I think a stronger argument for a liberal arts college could be made for both intrinsic and extrinsic value.
9 people found this helpful
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James B.
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
If you want to learn what higher education is all about and why you might need it, this wonderfully written book has the answers
Reviewed in the United States on March 24, 2017
This is a marvelous book. It clearly defines what a liberal education is, describes the history of universities through the ages, explains different models for running universities and other organizations of learning, and debunks urban myths about why, for example, Chinese... See more
This is a marvelous book. It clearly defines what a liberal education is, describes the history of universities through the ages, explains different models for running universities and other organizations of learning, and debunks urban myths about why, for example, Chinese students test two years ahead of their U.S. counterparts (it''s because the go to school much more of the year than students do in the U.S., so that when this oft-cited) test is given, the Chinese students have literally been in school two years longer than US students of the same age!). The author also gives a very personal account of the experiences he and his brother has coming to US universities in the very early wave of Indian students who were middle class and had just been stripped of any chance to gain scholarships to study in England, the traditional destination for Indian scholars to pass through. Thanks to Margaret Thatcher, the brightest Indian minds came to the US, if not all of a sudden, quite soon. I cried when reading excerpts from the article written by the author''s mother after dropping her older son off at Harvard. It made me think of my country as it was, a country that has been lost in the recent political upheavals and surging xenophobia. I hope we regain that place, that dignity, and I hope that the liberal education defended by Mr. Zakaria regains its proper respect because it trains people to think for themselves in a critical, data-driven manner, whether for self analysis or world analysis.

Thank you, also, Fareed Zakaria, for your defense also of young people today and your dismissal of the stereotypes so popular with old men, white and American or otherwise.

No, I am not my father and could never be him. However, I know that he would have loved your book also, being a physicist who grew up in the slums during the Great Depression, spoke many foreign languages, loved literature, the symphony, art and theater, and who traveled the world to work with scientists of many nations order to carry out his life''s work.
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Mark Oresic
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
‘In Defense of a Liberal Education’ - Fareed Zakaria
Reviewed in the United States on November 6, 2018
“I hope that all of you who graduate today, and who experience the power of education in your own lives, will become advocates for the value of higher education in our society. There is a national conversation taking place right now about the value of higher education, and... See more
“I hope that all of you who graduate today, and who experience the power of education in your own lives, will become advocates for the value of higher education in our society. There is a national conversation taking place right now about the value of higher education, and we need your voice in that conversation. We need you, in other words, to help others to achieve in the future what you achieve today.” - Christopher L. Eisgruber, President; Princeton University; Commencement Speech, June 2018.

In calling for advocates for the value of higher education, President Eisgruber, as well as all others so concerned, might well be pleased with Fareed Zakaria’s well thought out and articulated book, ‘In Defense of a Liberal Education’.

This insightful book, begins with the following quote:

“We are drowning in information, while starving for wisdom. The world henceforth will be run by synthesizers, people able to put together the right information at the right time, think critically about it, and make important choices wisely.” - E. O. Wilson

… and, concludes with the following selected words from the author …

“Because of the times we live in, all of us, young and old, do not spend enough time and effort thinking about the meaning of life. We do not look inside of ourselves enough to understand our strengths and our weaknesses, and we do not look around enough - at the world, in history - to ask the deepest and broadest questions. The solution surely is that, even now, we could all use a little bit more of a liberal education.” - Fareed Zakaria

The main content of Mr. Zakaria’s excellent book, is clearly sandwiched between these two meaningful quotes, and I can assure you, that investing the time and effort requisite to find out what that content was - was clearly the privilege of this reader, and therefore, I highly recommend it!
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Kindle Customer
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Fascinating read to giving future hope to modern youth. Great asset for parents, teens, and society.
Reviewed in the United States on April 19, 2016
This is a fascinating review of why youth should seek education for learning''s sake rather than to get a particular job. They should be learning "for their 6th job rather than 1st job." It gives a good perspective and hope for the current generation of youth,... See more
This is a fascinating review of why youth should seek education for learning''s sake rather than to get a particular job. They should be learning "for their 6th job rather than 1st job." It gives a good perspective and hope for the current generation of youth, pointing out their pluses when so many people focus on the negatives of the generation. Even my 10th grade daughter read the bulk of it after looking up certain parts for a research paper on millennials. You know the book is something special when your teen says "This is pretty interesting," without being required to read it. Zakaria is a talented scholar and pundit. This book is a worthwhile investment for anyone with children, particularly teens, those who work with youth, or anyone who has (or want to have) hope for the future. It is also well done enough and interesting enough to catch the interest of a college bound teen. I wish more writers gave us this type of good information without being so dense as to be unreadable. "In Defense" tells a story, educates, and promotes ideas for the benefit of youth and society - all in a readable format.
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kdinesen
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Zakaria stresses the need for Liberal Arts ciriculum in all vocations
Reviewed in the United States on September 2, 2017
Fareed Zakaria is an American journalist from Mumbai, India. He writes a weekly column for the Washington Post. He is the host of CNN Global Public Square (GPS) that discusses problems plaguing the world and possible solutions. He has authored a few books including “In... See more
Fareed Zakaria is an American journalist from Mumbai, India. He writes a weekly column for the Washington Post. He is the host of CNN Global Public Square (GPS) that discusses problems plaguing the world and possible solutions. He has authored a few books including “In Defense of a Liberal Education” and “The Post-American World.”

Zakaria is extremely astute in his analysis regarding liberal education. Higher education programs have moved away requiring liberal arts courses in their programs. The main focus is learning the skills necessary to find employment upon graduation. Zakaria argues that it the study of liberal arts and humanities that gives people the common ground for mutual respect, understanding, and to have meaningful conversations. He discusses the aristocratic origins of the liberal arts and why such education is no longer compulsory. He compares the experience of being raised in India and then coming to America to study at a university versus that of a student raised in America.

Our vocational programs no longer require writing papers. We no longer write clear and concise. Zakaria points out to write clearly one must think clearly and organize one’s thoughts. I found this to be true in recent graduate courses. Students would submit their responses to assignments but they were not clear. They rambled with run-on sentences and would become defensive if I asked for clarification. It seemed they never revisited what they wrote before submitting it. I found it frustrating that professors did not hold students accountable for quality writing with clear and developed ideas. Thank you for indulging me in my grumbling. If our higher education institutions do not uphold academic standards this is a disservice to the students. Something that is missing the amount of reading required. Reading comprehension is a necessity. The best way to write better is to read, read, and read.

Liberal arts helps students to speak. In India, part of a student’s grade is the ability to speak and communicate your mind. As Zakaria points out, to clearly verbally the thoughts of one’s mind requires an understanding one’s mind. It is necessary to pause and put thoughts into a logical order so others may understand the message.

Another strength Zarakia attributes to liberal education is learning how to learn. He realized his most important gain from college and graduate school is understanding how to acquire knowledge on his own. Much is this is seeking out new resources and doing research. He learned how to read papers and books and understand the author’s premise. He learned to approve and to respectfully disapprove the hypothesis. He learned how to professionally present an opposing view. For Zakaria, and hopefully most of us, learning is a pleasurable journey of exploration.

Vocational skills may likely be irrelevant in the work after graduation. Learning how to learn, verbally communicate, develop and test ideas are skills that will a lifetime. A liberal education re-establishes the mutual ground of knowledge to foster relationships, respect, and humankind. With so many Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) there is still the opportunity to study and learn humanities, history, art, and culture.

If you have not watched Fareed Zakaria’s GPS show I highly recommend it. His analysis is through, developed, and logical. His presentations are clearly articulated. This is the result of hard work, focus, and being willing and knowing how to learn. Some people suggest the audience is parents and prospective students. I believe this would be a wake-up for higher education institutions and for legislatures defining public education policy.
4 people found this helpful
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Reid McCormick
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
A great defense
Reviewed in the United States on June 22, 2015
“There is today a loss of coherence and purpose surrounding the idea of a liberal education.” Nearly every week I see an article online about which college degrees lead to the best paying careers and which ones do not. I read these articles and I am saddened.... See more
“There is today a loss of coherence and purpose surrounding the idea of a liberal education.”

Nearly every week I see an article online about which college degrees lead to the best paying careers and which ones do not. I read these articles and I am saddened. These articles promote education only as a means to earn money. And schools are partly to blame. For decades, colleges and universities have been avidly advertising the (very true) fact that people with a college degree earn significantly more money over their career than their non-degree holding counterparts.

While it is not evil to consider job prospects and salary when choosing a school or major, it is completely gut-wrenching to see a student choose a business degree rather than music solely based on future job possibilities. It is so difficult to see students choose a path of comfort over a path of courage and passion.

When I was in college I chose a major I was passionate about. I had no clue what job I would get with it, but I knew my passion would be contagious in whatever vocation I choose. Things worked out for me, I know for every success story there is a discouraging story.

In Defense of a Liberal Education by Fareed Zakaria is about turning back to the foundation of liberal education. “The solution to the problems of a liberal education is more – and better – liberal education.” This is a wonderful and concise book that describes that challenges and benefits of a liberal education in a modern Western society.

I highly recommend this book as a ringing endorsement for a liberal education.
6 people found this helpful
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Bob Lee
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Contrarian optimism articulated to perfection
Reviewed in the United States on August 28, 2019
If you believe the world is headed to hell in a hand basket, or that today’s over-programmed, over-anxious millennials will drop civilization’s ball when it is handed to them, read this then repent. Zakaria is uniquely gifted and informed to describe Western... See more
If you believe the world is headed to hell in a hand basket, or that today’s over-programmed, over-anxious millennials will drop civilization’s ball when it is handed to them, read this then repent.
Zakaria is uniquely gifted and informed to describe Western civilization’s ambiguous, on-again, off-again relationship with philosophy and science beginning with Prometheus. (Why did Zeus torture the titan who brought fire and knowledge to humans? And later why does the God of the Old Testament punish Adam and Eve for tasting the forbidden fruit of knowledge?) No other world religions are founded on the premise that knowledge of the world is evil and a seditious insult to the authority of the gods.
And yet it is the western academy with its secular liberal educational values that has driven disease, ignorance, squalor, war and intolerance into retreat behind its relentless pursuit of this knowledge.
Whether you agree or disagree with the thesis, you should read this crisp summary of the role that the expansion of general knowledge continues to play in improving civilization.
2 people found this helpful
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Hari K Rajagopalan
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
An excellent book
Reviewed in the United States on February 27, 2020
A great defense of liberal arts education and why it is important and relevant in today’s society. Fareed is an excellent product of a fine liberal arts education and makes a compelling argument to not just preserve but to grow and build the liberal arts education... See more
A great defense of liberal arts education and why it is important and relevant in today’s society. Fareed is an excellent product of a fine liberal arts education and makes a compelling argument to not just preserve but to grow and build the liberal arts education foundation which has been so critical for the prosperity of our nation
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Top reviews from other countries

Tim Cork
4.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
A timely and perennial topic
Reviewed in Canada on December 1, 2020
This topic has been a bone of contention for me since the time I had to choose a high school elective program - and as perennial as the classics. Very well written in contemporary language with excellent supportive material. The author states, “I still sympathize with...See more
This topic has been a bone of contention for me since the time I had to choose a high school elective program - and as perennial as the classics. Very well written in contemporary language with excellent supportive material. The author states, “I still sympathize with arguments in search of a core, but I have come to put a greater value than I once did on the openness inherent in liberal education—the ability for the mind to range widely and pursue interests freely.” In my perfect world, strengthening character through the liberal arts would trump the conventional wisdom of specializing. Perhaps this is the best compromise though - a core program with a mandatory adjunct of liberal study’s. I enjoyed and appreciate the author’s opinions expressed in his book.
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Marian Atkinson
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
As a advocate that everyone going to University should have ...
Reviewed in Canada on November 10, 2016
As a advocate that everyone going to University should have to first complete at least 2 years Liberal Arts prior to moving on to a Professional School, this book says it all. Unfortunately our universities are placing no emphasis on Arts whatsoever. Having worked in a...See more
As a advocate that everyone going to University should have to first complete at least 2 years Liberal Arts prior to moving on to a Professional School, this book says it all. Unfortunately our universities are placing no emphasis on Arts whatsoever. Having worked in a university setting for practically my whole adult life, I find many of those who go into the Professional Schools, ie. Business, Engineering, etc. graduate with a very narrow focus, lacking critical thinking skills such as one acquires via Philosophy; very little knowledge of history; lacking writing skills -- all of which are extremely valuable no matter what your focus in the long-term. This books makes that point and more extremely well.
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Durotolu Aro
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
or accounting degree gives a skill just like a sports camp
Reviewed in Canada on July 10, 2015
This book made me realize that an engineering, law, medical, or accounting degree gives a skill just like a sports camp, modelling, or a craft school. Our ability to maximize these skills will be limited by how narrow our liberal education is. The best accountant, the most...See more
This book made me realize that an engineering, law, medical, or accounting degree gives a skill just like a sports camp, modelling, or a craft school. Our ability to maximize these skills will be limited by how narrow our liberal education is. The best accountant, the most beautiful model or the most skilled Dr. will not be the most successful. The most successful will be the ones who in addition to the basic skills, know a bit of so many other fields.
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saxonmiller
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Fantastic all around.
Reviewed in Canada on July 14, 2015
Purchased a paperback, and was sent a hardcover at no extra cost. Shipped within two days, and I have already finished reading the book. Fascinating read, and a fantastic short book that I recommend to anyone, especially those involved in academia.
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Lise Talbot Bélair
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Five Stars
Reviewed in Canada on August 24, 2016
Had the privilege of receiving a liberal education many years ago. I was really prepared to face the world.
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In online Defense of wholesale a Liberal Education online

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In online Defense of wholesale a Liberal Education online

In online Defense of wholesale a Liberal Education online

In online Defense of wholesale a Liberal Education online

In online Defense of wholesale a Liberal Education online

In online Defense of wholesale a Liberal Education online

In online Defense of wholesale a Liberal Education online

In online Defense of wholesale a Liberal Education online

In online Defense of wholesale a Liberal Education online

In online Defense of wholesale a Liberal Education online

In online Defense of wholesale a Liberal Education online

In online Defense of wholesale a Liberal Education online

In online Defense of wholesale a Liberal Education online

In online Defense of wholesale a Liberal Education online

In online Defense of wholesale a Liberal Education online

In online Defense of wholesale a Liberal Education online

In online Defense of wholesale a Liberal Education online

In online Defense of wholesale a Liberal Education online

In online Defense of wholesale a Liberal Education online

In online Defense of wholesale a Liberal Education online

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In online Defense of wholesale a Liberal Education online

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