Three Liberal Arts Goals

Critical Thinking Responsible Citizenship Closing the “Joy Gap”
Critical thinking must be sustained, analytical,

collaborative, research-driven, synoptic, collaborative, skeptical, decision focused, accountable, and quantitative if possible.

The first challenge of responsible citizenship is to see the big picture. If you can’t how can you

rationally prioritize your civic time? The second is to align your life with your vision.

Every student should experience the joy of math, science, words, music, art, dance, drama, and sports before graduation. Making fully informed life decisions depends on it.
To achieve these qualities the integrated application of a set of seven tools can be game-changing: the thematic journal,  checklist,  matrix, conversation,  before and after test,  thematic calendar, and capstone To see the big picture means applying the tools of critical thinking to at least seven issues of paramount importance: foreign policy, economic policy, justice, climate change, education, health care, identity. Let’s call it the “joy gap”

component of the liberal arts program. A few very fortunate students already have reached joy in all areas and can be exempted. A full life comes from experiencing a full range of joys.

These tools until now have been used singly or in combination in haphazard ways across many fields. To understand the big picture requires mastering the fundamentals of

seven disciplines.

Joy comes from doing.

These should all be practice courses culminating in a capstone performance.

The key to maximizing human potential for

critical thinking is to use them all in a systematic way.

The big seven are: ethics, rhetoric, economics, politics, history, statistics, and science Examples: compose and perform a 12 bar blues. Demonstrate a balanced life long fitness program.

Draw a self portrait.

The three most urgent and important areas of application of critical thinking are:  first, how to live the fullest possible life day to day, second, major life choices (career, parenthood), third,  allocating scarce civic time and making decisions with respect to party affiliation,

voting,  community


A serious citizenship training program would address each of the core issues from each of these eight disciplinary perspectives culminating in a capstone presentation by each student which would lay the foundation for the life long habit of sustained, multi-disciplinary analysis. Model courses exist for each field – the Betty Edwards 3 day Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain program, Scott Houston, The Piano Guy’s program, Tim Galwey’s

The Inner Game of Teniis, Golf, etc. Colleges will have to hire more practicing artists and coaches to do this well.