The Meaning of Liberal Education


Liberal Education Aids Learners to Grow to be a More Conscientious, Dedicated and Fulfilled Individual!

Liberal education is the learning within, and for, a community. The collegiate institution’s task is to enlarge this community to include all global citizens. I believe liberal education can best be defined as nourishment of the soul. The spiritual directive progresses beyond prescribed coursework, historical underpinnings and institutional directives.

Education of this calibre scaffolds learning from seemingly separate, distinct fields of study to a meaningful, meta-cognitive core. The process involves interrelating art with business, pin balling music from math and coalescing sciences with language. Personal development assists the learner with finding their personal meaning as well as their respective place, niche, and responsibility in society.

My first experience with liberal education was when I attended Wartburg College as an undergraduate. Previously, I learned objectives, received high scores and marks, and was able to regurgitate information with relative ease. The problem was that these actions were no longer enough at such an academic institution. I had to figure out where I fit into this picture. There was no rubric, no checklist, and no final commemorating completion. This format drove me crazy. I just wanted to be told that I had succeeded getting what I needed so I could move on to life. Hence, there lies the problem. Liberal education is not an itinerary and is never complete. After teaching in public high schools for nearly two decades, I found that I called upon my own liberal education daily, if not hourly, to help my students make sense of their lives. I was employed to teach the sciences and that’s what I did but life is so much more than any one singular subject. Classroom discussions pole-vaulted from physical representations of light waves to the beauty of art, to the understanding of the brain’s perceptions, and to the geometrical quantification of interference within a single class period.

Students came to class because they had a voice, learned about themselves and directed their own education. I had a great career as a secondary educator, not specifically because of the accolades, but because of my students.

I found I loved the Socratic method of learning and my students relished the opportunity to actively engage in a safe, constructive, interactive environment. The process is what led me back to a liberal arts institution. I have specific training in the natural and social sciences but a love for all learning. I feel like I can make, and have made, a positive difference. I yearn to assist young learners in finding, and understanding, their calling. The liberal education process shows us how to grow as individuals and develop servant leadership. I am still growing and always will be.



Being a product and now at par of a liberal education system helps me find worth in my own life. I help to develop, truly develop, engaged community participants. I believe my experiences and understandings assist in exemplifying that our futures are more than genetics, circumstances, or honing a peg for a hole.

Putting a liberal education into words is like trying to describe the feeling of beautiful dawn.

You know what it is, what it isn’t and how it makes you feel but the dissected, and described, aggregate parts do not or cannot, equal the whole. The beauty is in the process not the product. Sciences are an intimate part of the arts and it’s also vice versa. Liberal education allows the learner to make these connections and grow to be a more conscientious, dedicated and fulfilled individual. Of course, liberal education will help the learner attain a good life but more importantly it aids in the realization that life is good.

Dr. Michael D. Bechtel

Dr. Michael D. Bechtel

Strongly feels, the realm of science education is an interesting field that allows for intertwining endeavors built from each individual discipline (sciences and education). Works to assist students with forming their own approaches to teaching (and understanding) science.
Dr. Michael D. Bechtel

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