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Integration and the liberal arts: a historical overview

Leon Conrad (Independent Researcher based at The Academy of Oratory, London, UK)

On the Horizon

ISSN: 1074-8121

Article publication date: 4 February 2014

1302

Abstract

Purpose

The traditional liberal-arts curriculum of the word-based Trivium (grammar, dialectic/logic, rhetoric) and the number-based Quadrivium (arithmetic, geometry, astronomy, music) has an intrinsic unity. Used in an integrated way, it provides a tool for self-development, self-realisation and self-integration. The purpose of this paper is to outline the core nature of the integrative quality of the liberal-arts curriculum, trace the gradual disintegration of the curriculum from its adoption in classical Greece, and provide practical suggestions for the re-integration of the curriculum in the context of modern educational practice.

Design/methodology/approach

The paper presents a philosophical survey of the history of the theory and practice relating to the intrinsic integrated quality of liberal-arts education from pre-classical Greece to the present day.

Findings

The integrated quality of the liberal-arts curriculum has experienced a gradual disintegration from its adoption in classical Greece to the twenty-first century. The paper provides practical suggestions for the re-integration of an integrated approach to the curriculum in the context of modern educational practice.

Practical implications

Re-engaging with the integrated quality of the liberal-arts curriculum is vital for fulfilling the purpose of education as a practice: that of enabling a human being to flourish in a holistic way, in order to take an active role within a civil society.

Originality/value

The paper provides a valuable antidote to overly rational thinking by arguing for the need to restore the intrinsic integrative quality of the liberal-arts curriculum in educational practice in order to support the flourishing of individuals, society in order for the emergence of a mutually supportive interaction between them to appear.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

Copyright © Leon Conrad, 2013. Leon Conrad has asserted his moral rights in accordance with the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988.

Citation

Conrad, L. (2014), "Integration and the liberal arts: a historical overview", On the Horizon, Vol. 22 No. 1, pp. 46-56. https://doi.org/10.1108/OTH-11-2013-0045

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2014, Company

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