Mechanical Education Is Far More Important Than Liberal Education

Ever seen a kid break down his toys and then try to put them back together? It must have reminded you of your childhood when you, or your playmates,probably did the same.Although I myself never did such things, I have seen my brother unscrew tons of cars and separate the dolls limb by limb, sometimes managing to put them together again while at other times they ended up in scraps. Or you must have seen or even know about children showing interest in cooking and getting involved in kitchen work, usually ending up with a mess. Then there are some who are fascinated with arts and you can see them coloring their walls, in spite of having been provided with tons of sheets and coloring books.

While these children may be praised during childhood for their antics and interests, not every parent is very happy about them going for a formal liberal education when they have grown up.They want that their child gets a mechanical education, something that is expected to help them make a living and survive. What is it about liberal and mechanical education that the latter is preferred over former?

The idea of liberal education stems from ancient Greece and the Socratic tradition of intellectual and moral training.The theory behind liberal education was that it has nothing to do with the practical. It is concerned with humanities and arts and culture. It is on a higher level of thought and you gain from it intrinsically. Mechanical education, in sharp contrast, is something related to the industry and that would prove to be useful and practical in life. It trains you for a particular job, a vocation, and you do it because you need money to be able to survive.

Considering this aspect, it is no surprise that the society emphasizes more so on a mechanical education, usually ignoring the liberal perspective completely. But this is not to say that liberal education is a waste of time. In fact, in Aristotle’s opinion, being limited to a mechanical education is not a good idea, although it is important if you are to have leisure as well. Work is required for leisure and is necessary for the functioning of society, yet it is inferior to leisure.

People of leisure can be said to be those persons who have managed to attain or accumulate enough wealth so they no longer have to work for money to be able to sustain themselves. They can indulge in activities that are not profitable or earn them an income. They can travel, write, sing, learn, and pursue activities that make them happy without any worries about how they would support themselves or their families. This is the sole reason that Aristotle called this type of education “liberal”; that is, because the person is free to “liberate” himself rather than conform to societal demands. Of course, liberal education is also not without mechanical education – for instance, you need to learn how to read and write if you want to pursue poetry.

Should you go for a mechanical education or a liberal one? I would say mechanical is more important, at least in the early years of your life. Why so? Because you have to, and should, support yourself and stand on your own feet rather than forever depending on your father’s wealth. No matter how superficial it may sound, it is necessary that you have a source of continuous income. Earning a paycheck is important. How else do you expect to eat and drink and carry out other activities?Which, by the way, could easily include activities that come under “liberal education”. So basically you require mechanical education to be able to pursue liberal education.

Once you have attained a mechanical education and have managed to start earning through it, you are free to pursue your interests. You will have a backup. If you had ignored mechanical education and rather went for liberal and ended up not being able support yourself, whom would you turn to? The society will probably be just waiting to give you the I-told-you-so look, because, while there is no surety about your earnings, let’s face the truth; it is far easier and more probable to get a job after mechanical education than after liberal education; plus, the earnings are more too in the former case.

In fact, a Forbes study revealed from a survey of 3,000 job seekers and HR professionals that while 64% of hiring managers were ready to give consideration to someone without a degree at all, less than 2% were actually looking forward to have a liberal arts grad. That is some prejudice. So the time and money you spent during college earning a liberal arts degree was a waste? The student loans you took out for your program and your super frugal attempts to save money so as not to increase your already rising debt were for nothing?

Well, being in such a position: your best bet is to take some more courses to round you up, such as those related to marketing and business, and mentioning them on your resume. Such courses turn out to be helpful for different kinds of jobs.Your love for books may make you want to work at a library and you’ll make use of these skills there. Or, if you are into nature and adventure your work could involve arranging bus trips to locations, and these skills would be helpful in managing the business and dealing with the people. Another example could be if you are into cooking and want to start up a food business. While you do not really require training for this business and marketing skills would polish your business.


Mechanical Education

Image Source: Harney Coach Riata Tiedra- eQuip Sells it

That being said, do not make money the most important thing of your life. While it is important, no doubt about that, concentrating solely on money is just plain unhealthy for you. Your soul needs more than that. Take pride in your work; do not do it just to earn.

Recognize the value in your profession and that of others’, and acknowledge shared interests among people to improve the society. There is no such thing as certain jobs being better than others and the size of your paycheck determining your success. The society needs to learn and promote this.

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