Liberal arts facts for kids
Liberal arts is the term given to an education based on classical antiquity. It is meant to be a practical education which develops mental capacity. It was designed in the late medieval period (12th/13th centuries) using ideas from Ancient Greek and Roman culture. The students were meant to be young gentlemen, that is, from respectable and important families. In modern times, liberal arts colleges educate both sexes, and a wider range of people.
The seven liberal arts
The area and range of the liberal arts evolved in time. Originally, most of the teaching, and all of the text-books, would have been in Latin, the language the students would have learnt at school before they came to college. In the beginning the courses were aimed at educating the elite in the classical works. Eventually, the meaning of "liberal arts" got extended to include both humanities and science. But even today, practical activities as agriculture, business, engineering, pedagogy or pharmacy are excluded from the liberal arts. The liberal professions include only professions which require education at university, mainly law and medicine.
- Grammar, the science of the correct usage of language. It helps a person to speak and write correctly;
- Dialectic (or logic), the science of correct thinking. It helps you to arrive at the truth;
- Rhetoric, the science of expression, especially persuasion. Ways of organizing a speech or document. Adapting it so that people understand it, and believe it.
The quadrivium (Latin for four ways), included the disciplines connected with mathematics. They were:
- arithmetic teaches about numbers;
- geometry teaches about calculating spaces;
- astronomy teaches about the stars;
- music teaches ratio and proportion and is related to melody and song as it was in the Middle Ages.
Liberal arts colleges
Liberal arts colleges are a modern re-interpretation of the old idea. Mostly in the United States, these colleges concentrate on good teaching, and are closer to the Oxford & Cambridge type of tuition than most universities. They are mostly or entirely fee-paying institutions, and so continue to offer an elite education to students from prosperous families. The courses are mostly or entirely undergraduate courses.
Images for kids
Philosophia et septem artes liberales, the seven liberal arts. From the Hortus deliciarum of Herrad of Landsberg (12th century)
Thompson Library at Vassar College in New York
In Spanish: Artes liberales para niños
Liberal arts Facts for Kids. Kiddle Encyclopedia.