How to Achieve Your Own Liberal Arts Education

Having written recently about the demise of liberal arts in colleges, the mariner pondered ways by which each of us still could be broadly educated and “erudite.” One truly can become well versed in subjects that are part of a good liberal arts education. This free education is a gift from the Internet.

There is no subject that cannot be researched or help broaden one’s understanding. One can learn any language; become an expert about any place or period in history, any science category, mathematics, literature and poetry, biology, sociology, health and medicine, botany, geography, physics, astronomy, etc. The mariner suggests the reader try to name a subject for which there is no information on the Internet.

What the student must bring to the computer is curiosity. Curiosity is the engine that drives the education process. Ask the three “?” questions: What is happening? How does this happen? Why is it happening? Otherwise, there is no syllabus; no textbooks are required; no fees or tuition required. Just bring your curiosity. A little practice rapidly will expand your inquisitiveness. Below are a few sample websites mariner uses from time to time.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Special:Search?search=&go=Go Want to know what Bananas in Pyjamas is all about? It’s in the Wikipedia. The best definition of this website is “an encyclopedia on steroids.” The Wikipedia often shows up in search engine results. Always helpful and full of detail.

http://translate.reference.com/ This is one of the best dictionary/translator websites. The mariner typed “Where is the dog?” (German) and received “wo ist der Hund?” One can even practice as if $400 were paid for expensive language software. The website has several languages usually offered in a liberal arts curriculum.

http://news.yahoo.com/nasa-sees-unavoidable-sea-level-rise-ahead-180844156.html NASA predicts 3-foot rise in sea levels. All the larger search engines have current event screens; many have scroll bars for popular headlines. This is a good place to review once a day if the reader does not want to suffer cable news channels.

http://www.nationaljournal.com/events/the-next-america-opportunity-for-all-20150625 Video of a conference talking about how the United States can grow the middle class. Suggest viewing in segments. Key content is the breadth of the issue. The National Journal is an excellent source for those interested in ideas about culture and politics.

http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2015/05/ “The Man Who Couldn’t Stop Giving.” A fascinating article about why humans have generosity. The mariner subscribes to The Atlantic. This magazine, both online and in print, provides quality insights about many subjects.

http://www.smithsonianmag.com/?no-ist Topics are diverse, covering culture, archeology, current trends, and interesting biographies. The mariner subscribes to the Smithsonian.

http://www.livescience.com/ Mentioned in an earlier post, this website covers many areas of science, including current events. Livescience.com easily covers one’s science requirement in a liberal arts curriculum.

http://americanliterature.com/ Did you know Kate Chopin wrote The Awakening in 1899? What other book did she write? How many short stories written by Kate can you name? To paraphrase Ed McMahon, everything you ever wanted to know about American literature is at this website. One can read many, many books at this website. If you are familiar with a big chunk of this site, consider yourself an English Major. The reader will have no difficulty finding similar websites for literature around the world.

http://ahs.org/ American Horticultural Society’s website. A comfortable site that ranges from gardening buffs to serious breeders of species. Every “trade,” (gardening, woodwork, welding, quilt making, etc.) has websites. There are many skill-related websites – detailed enough to fix a dripping faucet or repair an electrical outlet.

By now, the reader understands the method for educating one’s self. The important thing is to search and search again until you find something you don’t know about. One could even learn what a professional librarian does – something the State of Iowa doesn’t require of its public school “librarians.”

Ancient Mariner

2 thoughts on “How to Achieve Your Own Liberal Arts Education

  1. Bravo! Wonderful post. Internet Archive is also a great website. On it one can download thousands of older books in the public domain. Rare books from libraries around the world. I am constantly amazed, often thinking that I’m the only person in the world interested in a certain esoteric subject, but when I google that subject I find dozens or maybe hundreds of websites devoted to it. I guess I’m not so unique after all. Darn!

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