What does Liberal Education mean in the Digital Age?
Liberal Education had a particular meaning at its origin. Or, rather, it had two or more different meanings at the origin: the 'liberal' in English-Scottish sense, an education to be critical and to seek the truth and the German idea of 'Bildung', of continuous self-cultivation. This is a self-consciously gross generalisation, but I think those two ideas should remain at the heart of modern liberal education. It should both be sceptical and hopeful, never a slave of received wisdom and forever in the faith of cooperation and progress. And, this is exactly the same core values modern, secular, democratic societies need: The belief that we can work with one another, better our lives and can make decisions without being told - by some divine or dictator - what we should do, is essential to its existence.
There are only two paths from here. One is that the Digital Age brings its own paradigm - of its own politics, society and education. We have had a terrifying glimpse of what that could mean. A consensus is emerging that the narrow, technical paths we are following may lead to nowhere except a future of Robot overlords. The alternative is through a reimagined a liberal education, fit for a digital world of consumption, connection and production. A liberal education that transcends the literary and embraces digital literacies and digital modes of thinking; a liberal education whose scientific spirit is at peace with human nature, one that is built around cooperation and conversation; one that liberates us, animates the beauty around us, agitates us to change and encourages us to cooperate. I have come to believe that this mode of education, a liberal education fit for the digital age, is indeed what should underpin all the efforts of educating the millennials.