Mark William Roche Quotes on the Liberal Arts

These quotes are from the Introduction to his excellent book Why Choose the Liberal Arts?

"The liberal arts build on one of the oldest ideals of learning which Socrates put into practice in ancient Greece. For Socrates it was clear that we learn more effectively when we pursue questions ourselves and seek the answers ourselves, when we embody what educators call 'active learning.' The student is actively engaged in the learning process, asking questions, being asked questions, pursuing often elusive answers in dialogue with others. Knowledge cannot simply be poured, like water, from one larger container into an emptier one (Symposium 175d). Socrates also made it clear that learning is most important and most successful when students are engaged in meaningful discussions, asking questions that will determine who they are and what they think about life's most significant issues. For example, what is human excellence? What is friendship? love? courage? How do we learn? What constitutes the just state? It is not by chance that the questions in Plato's Socratic dialogues often have life-or-death consequences, as in the question that forms the center of the Euthyphro: What is piety?...

"To know something is not simply to mimic the truth but to be able to give reasons and arguments for that truth; this level of reflection ensures that the student will be able to defend a view against the arguments of future opponents instead of simply succumbing to their persuasive rhetoric; will be ready to apply knowledge in changing circumstances; and will be equipped to build on existing knowledge and extend it, via the same principles of searching inquiry and rational reflection, into new areas" (pp. 6, 7).

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