In 50 years, about a third of the jobs people currently hold in the United States will be automated. One in three people will be replaced at their job by a robot. At the same time, technological advancement will become such that many of the current resources whose scarcity define our existence (food, medical care, energy) could stop being scarce at all.
The changes that our society will experience in the next half-century are so monumental that they could cause anyone not tethered in their understanding of life and humanity to experience an existential crisis. And while I often bristle at the popularly held notion that education is a stepping-stone to a paycheck, we would be derelict if we weren’t properly equipping our students with the tools to be able to provide for themselves as they transition to adulthood.
So in either case, whether we are grounding students in their identity as human beings, or preparing them for the new economy, I am a firm believer in the educational capacity of the liberal arts to help students navigate the rough waters ahead.
At Ambleside, we want to offer the best liberal arts education in the area by exposing students to great books (both of classic literature and modern scholarship) and allowing them to interact with the ideas in those books. We also seek to equip them with the skills necessary to understand and participate in the world around them. What does that look like? It means that we are not only concerned with the grade the student is making. We look at how well their skills are developing, from the foreign language they are acquiring to their ability to communicate in class and on the written page.
Finally, we seek to raise students up in maturity, which means we aren’t simply developing their academic skills. For all the talk recently about the supposed lack of maturity in the millennial generation, I dare say that the previous ones have not been much better. The troubles and worries that hound our culture today are largely a product of the fact that the previous generations, for all their independence and initiative, pursued self-advancement at the expense of cultivating an elder level of maturity. We want our students to become the type of adults that learn how to care for themselves so that, in turn, they can show care for others. This permeates our program, from learning how to sympathise with the characters in novels and the people of the past, to an active passion for volunteerism and community engagement.
What this amounts to is an education of the whole person toward the goal of being a whole person, and there aren’t many schools that do that.