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In formal education, liberal arts ought to be valued above practical skills.

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 11/17/2015 Category: Education
Updated: 2 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 866 times Debate No: 82726
Debate Rounds (5)
Comments (4)
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Round one is acceptance. Beginning statements after that. Round 2-3 are open for new arguements. Rounds 4-5 are for only rebutalls and closing statements. Good luck to whoever wants to debate this awesome topic.


Practical Skills are significantly more valuable than the Liberal Arts. Practical Skills easily trump Liberal Arts in preparing children for adolescence and adulthood. There are many full grown adults who readily admit that they wish they had the skills (such as cooking) to improve their life. Liberal Arts offer nothing beneficial towards prepping for adulthood.
Debate Round No. 1


Martin Luther King Jr. once said regarding how we educate, “Education must train one for quick, resolute and effective thinking. To think incisively and to think for one's self is very difficult. We are prone to let our mental life become invaded by legions of half-truths, prejudices, and propaganda… Even the press, the classroom, the platform, and the pulpit in many instances do not give us objective and unbiased truths. To save man from the morass of propaganda, in my opinion, is one of the chief aims of education. Education must enable one to sift and weigh evidence, to discern the true from the false, the real from the unreal, and the facts from the fiction.”

Our culture especially today is entrenched in biased propaganda. And it is because I believe that liberal arts is the way to avoid this going into the next generation that I affirm the resolution. Resolved: In formal education liberal arts ought to be valued above practical skills.

Let’s start off with a few definitions.


Formal education is defined by Sarah Eaton, PhD in Education Leadership, "Organized, guided by a formal curiculum, leads to a formal recognized credential such as a high school completion diploma or a degree, and is often guided and recognized by government at some level. Teachers are usually trained as professionals in some way."

Liberal arts is defined by The American Association fo Colleges and Universities: "Liberal learning is not confined to particular fields of study. What matters in liberal education is substantial content, rigorous methodology and an active engagement with the societal, ethical, and practical implication of our learning."

Finally, Practical Skills, or more commonly called, Vocational Skills is defined by Merriam-Webster as "Training for a specific occupation in agriculture, trade, or industry though a combination of theoretical teaching and practical experience provided by many high schools in their commercial and technical divisions, and by special institution fo collegiate standing (as a college of agruculture, a school of engineering, or a technical instutute)."

This is really important because my opponent believes practical skills is just skills like cooking or cleaning. They are NOT! They are skills that specifically get you a job.

With that said I would now like to present my value indicating why liberal arts is more important:

Value: Critical Thinking

Critical Thinking is defined as “the objective analysis and evaluation of an issue in order to form a judgment.”

There are many reasons to value critical thinking in our education system but the main one I want to focus on is shown in a value justification.

Value justification: purpose of education

Think for a moment why we even educate our young in the first place. At first you may think it is so that they may be launched into the workplace to be well prepared and to have a decent job. Even though this is noble pursuit, I would argue that the purpose of education is much deeper than just to get a large paycheck. Think about what Martin Luther King said. The purpose of educating is to instill the ability for students to think for themselves, to think critically, to looking deeper into an issue evaluating its truth, and to ultimately come up with solutions that will change the world.

Let’s dive a little deeper in this concept in my contentions:

Contention 1: Liberal Arts is the road to Critical Thinking

The liberal arts education is one of the best ways to instill critical thinking in students.

Application: Trivium and Quadrivium

The liberal arts are based upon the education system in ancient Greece. The Greeks, who were renowned in their ability to think critically used this system to instill in their students the ability to learn and philosophize, making them better thinkers and better citizens in the meantime. It was composed of two parts: the trivium (which focused on grammar, logic, and rhetoric), and the quadrivium (which was focused on arithmetic, geometry, music, and astronomy). Students ultimately learned the liberal arts in order to adequately think for themselves and thus not only benefit themselves, but also society in their democratic system of government.

Now, the Greeks also recognized practical skills as a means to grow the individual, but that was mostly through apprenticeship. In the realm of a formal education in ancient Greece, liberal arts was recognized as more important than something like practical skills because a focus liberal arts cultivates critical thinking while a focus of practical skills does not.

This leads to my second contention:

Contention 2: A focus on Practical skills limits critical thinking

Even though practical skills can be important in achieving certain goals in one’s life, it is not the ultimate goal of a formal education.

Application: Computer Code

If you were to teach a child how to solely write computer code and it turns out that child was a genius, he/she would probably be very successful in only writing code, but does the child have the ability to think outside of just writing code? Absolutely not! Simply teaching people how to do their jobs is not teaching them to think for themselves or helping them to think outside the box creating solution to problems, rather, instead it is closing them into a specific mindset, in this case programming.

This leads us to:

Contention 3: A Liberal Arts Focus achieves the purpose of education – Critical Thinking

In a world where false ideas and mindsets are being thrown around constantly, it is all the more crucial that we create a focus on Liberal Arts, giving the next generation preparation to combat such propaganda. It is not enough simply to train them to work and get money. We must instill a critical thinking mindset that only a liberal arts focus can achieve. Because of this, I would ask you to stand with me, and affirm the resolution.



KHickerson97 forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 2


greatdebater824 forfeited this round.


KHickerson97 forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 3


Since my opponent has failed to respond to my case as well as build his, I would ask that all vote Pro.


KHickerson97 forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 4


Please vote pro!


KHickerson97 forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 5
4 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 4 records.
Posted by Pfalcon1318 2 years ago
I'd take this debate, but I'm not entirely sure what you mean by the phrase "ought to be valued". Valued by whom and for what purpose?
Posted by BlackFlags 2 years ago
Posted by Cobalt 2 years ago
Opening statements include opening arguments, right? If not, what is the purpose of that round? Saying hello?
Posted by DATXDUDE 2 years ago
Yeaaah no. Liberal arts are close to useless when it comes to the real world, which is what school should prepare students for.
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