“Why I Teach Plato to Plumbers.”

Since Professor Fest is planning to give a lecture on the importance of liberal arts education, I thought this would be a good excuse for me to plug one of my all time favorite essays “Why I Teach Plato to Plumbers,” by Scott Samuelson.

Samuelson challenges the idea that education is nothing more than a necessary part of a successful career path.  He quotes Henry David Thoreau, “We seem to have forgotten that the expression ‘a liberal education’ originally meant among the Romans one worthy of free men; while the learning of trades and professions by which to get your livelihood merely, was considered worthy of slaves only.”

This article reaffirmed my opinion that education and career preparation should be two separate things. On a more personal note, this is also why I deeply regret my decision to major in English writing instead of philosophy.

I’d really love to know what you all think about this. Give it a read! At the very least, it will give you something to say next time some philistine asks you why you didn’t just major in engineering.


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4 Responses to “Why I Teach Plato to Plumbers.”

  1. epiratequeen says:

    This is a really interesting essay. I’m not sure I agree that education and career preparation should be entirely separate, though. If you fall in love with a particular philosopher, for example, wouldn’t you try to incorporate their ideas into your working life? I understand that not everyone can do that–I work as a secretary and I would never say I use what I’ve learned in my classes for my job. But in my opinion, college can accomplish both preparation for a rewarding career and innate learning at the same time.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Oh. As an engineering major (this is awkward), I have to say that it doesn’t seem like humanities are phasing out (correct me if I’m wrong, though). Even as an engineering major, I have to take a minimum of six humanities/social sciences.
    But I absolutely agree that education shouldn’t just be about your future career. It should be about broadening your way of thinking.

    Liked by 1 person

    • devilzadv0k8 says:

      Samuelson cites theses trends as evidence that the humanities are indeed fading out: “As usual, there’s plenty to be worried about: the steady evaporation of full-time teaching positions, the overuse and abuse of adjunct professors, the slashing of public funding, the shrinkage of course offerings and majors in humanities disciplines, the increase of student debt, the peddling of technologies as magic bullets, the ubiquitous description of students as consumers.”


    • devilzadv0k8 is absolutely correct, and I’ll be speaking a bit toward this today.


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