Freshman Year Seminar
Dr. Sara Frear
5 November 2014 Write a 750 1000word argumentative essay answering this question: How can the experience of disability contribute to the study of the liberal arts?
The meaning of the liberal arts has changed over time due to the societal and cultural contexts that evolve with the world. Because of the continuous change, the world has defined the arts in many various ways, ranging from dance and music to public speaking. The loose definition of art is expression of emotions through a medium. The study of the liberal arts is included in this meaning because it allows students to extend their horizons, expand their views, think in ways that will affect their lives and the lives of others, as well as expressing their various learning and life experiences.
The topic of disabilities is one that has had mixed reactions throughout history.
Disabilities affect not only the lives of the disabled, but those of their caregivers and people around them. The quality of these effects varies by disability, but the effects are substantial nonetheless. In the past, disabled people were seen as useless burdens to society because of their imperfections. They were even tortured and killed because of their shortcomings. In recent years, while there is still some prejudices against the disabled, the population has been granted more and more rights and accommodations in society.
Although the liberal arts and disabilities seem like totally opposite topics, they are related in some ways. The study of the liberal arts attracts wide varieties of people, and universities have
created ways to accommodate any students who want to study the liberal arts on their campus.
However, disabled people have impacted colleges not only by the physical aspects of a campus, but also within the courses and curriculum. The experience of disability has created new ideas within the cultural arts by seriously expanding the thinking of the classmates of the disabled.
As a student, I have encountered many people with a wide range of different disabilities.
In middle school, I had a friend named Sherry Roach, a girl who is adopted and a little person.
Her entire family, which included her parents and her two brothers Kevin and Will, were all little people a well. Because I had never encountered a little person before I met Sherry, I was skeptical on how I should treat her and whether or not I should even be her friend. As we began talking, we grew closer and became really good friends. Along with gaining a really meaningful friendship, I learned something significant about how I should live my life in general. Sherry is physically disabled, yes, but even when we were naive middle schoolers, she explained something significant to me that I did not realize until I got to high school. Sherry’s life and experience showed me how important it is to take opportunities. Although there are not many options besides school for a middle schooler, I learned from Sherry that school in itself is an opportunity to learn not just to pass tests, but to gain better knowledge that can be used to express one’s self.
The small lesson that Sherry taught me in middle school applies to the liberal arts itself.
My belief is that the arts are all about expression of some sort, but that the liberal arts in