More about Liberal Arts

There were a number of responses to the previous posts about a liberal education, including face-to-face conversations. Most were about the disappearance of the liberal arts curriculum in small colleges. For readers who want to delve a bit more deeply, the mariner iterates reference to Fareed Zakaria’s book, In Defense of a Liberal Education, W.W. Norton, 2015, ISBN 978-0-393-24768-8.

The mariner overlooked mathematics in his post about self taught education. There are reams of math sites, even reams about every segment of math from arithmetic to quantum mechanics. One site that may be useful rather than stressful is:

https://www.khanacademy.org/ This website was created by Salman Khan in 2006; it covers a great deal more than math. Khan has developed a psychology for learning that is popular and quite helpful to those struggling to learn on their own. See the following website for a review: http://www.slate.com/articles/technology/top_right/2011/08/salman_khan_founder_of_khan_academy.html

Now to the subject of this post.

If one marries a librarian, especially one who remains a bibliophile in this age of gadgets, not only is there a loving relationship but a door into the vast universe of printed knowledge. The mariner has been fortunate in his selection of a spouse who is an anthropomorphic version of liberal arts. Oh – and a wonderful wife! She told the mariner about a blog she reads every Friday. Sadly, the author is dying of cancer. In the final post, the author bids farewell using the phrase, “So long. Thanks for all the fish.”

The mariner may well count on one finger the number of readers who know the context of this phrase. In the context of the author’s final post, it is quite poignant and gives the reader a meaningful moment of reflection.

The phrase comes from a science fiction book titled Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams. In the story, humans are the third most intelligent species; the second most intelligent are monkeys and the most intelligent are dolphins. The Earth is in trouble and will be uninhabitable in a short time. The dolphins know this and consistently try to warn the humans that they must leave Earth. The humans never leave because they can’t understand the dolphins. Finally, the Earth has reached its last day. All the dolphins in the world rise out of the oceans and fly up into the sky, leaving Earth for the last time. As they leave, they say, “So long. Thanks for all the fish.”

The mariner includes this moment of unfortunate passing and the use of the phrase to point out how important it is to read and learn for one’s entire life. The mariner doesn’t think everyone should know about the dolphins – no one can read everything. Still, a meaningful exchange between author and reader will be missed when the original context is unknown. When similar moments arise with readers of the mariner’s blog, the reader should realize that something occurred that was unknown or not understood. As soon as possible, the reader should repair that unknown item. There is nothing in the entire world better than your search engine. Because of computerization, information has exploded in volume; access is the new king. Despite the ease with which we can acquire information, we are not compelled to do so. The Age of Enlightenment has long passed. It is the Age of Information. There is little need to appear informed when anyone easily can have access to the same information. What we overlook is the insight provided by a liberal and continuous education – turning information into knowledge.

Ancient Mariner

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