What's It All For?
EDUCATIONAL GOALS: A liberal arts education is the best preparation for life. Heard that before? As often as it may be repeated, we believe nothing less at Knox. And, by "life" we mean quite a lot of things. Living a good life. Making a good living. Your career. Your personal interests and satisfaction. Your contributions to the community where you live. It may be hard for you to imagine now that your priorities and aspirations are likely to change over the course of your life. And certainly your opportunities will change. But since 1837, a Knox liberal arts education has successfully prepared students for life?through changing technologies, war and peace, political upheaval, and transforming economies.
Perhaps the best explanation of the value of a Knox education is reflected in the following paragraphs. They come from the statement of educational goals that the Knox faculty crafted a few years ago?the same source for the broad questions we discussed under "Foundations." These paragraphs capture what your Knox experience will be about. But before you read them, we'll confess that they might just seem like an example of flowery language right now, in the early stages of your experience here. But even if that's how you feel now, make a promise to re-read these paragraphs at the end of your senior year, or better yet, five or 10 years after you graduate?by that time they will have real meaning for you. Guaranteed!?
The Goals of a Knox Education
Knox College provides students with an academically rigorous education in a residential context that supports intellectual, personal, and social growth. A Knox education is a transforming experience that leads students to challenge, question, discover, and participate actively in the community of ideas; to recognize and negotiate the conflicts and ambiguities of ideas, beliefs and perspectives; to fulfill personal aspirations; and ultimately to lead richer and more purposeful lives.
A primary focus of a Knox education is the acquisition of knowledge, both within and across the disciplines. But our goals extend far beyond that. Knox College is committed to a liberal or liberating education, a process through which individuals learn from established ideas and from their own experiences, relate them to those of others, and see past their limits. Knox students learn as deeply and richly as possible about what is known and about what might yet be discovered and reconsidered in the world around them. They question the source, importance, and consequences of ideas, so as to not merely accept them, but to evaluate and give them meaning, transcending the boundaries of that which is handed down.
A Knox education also helps students develop an appreciation for the equality and dignity of all people and a sense of caring regard for others. The College instills and nurtures the values of justice and social accountability, and the commitment and skills to draw independent conclusions about what these concepts mean.
At Knox, these goals inform the development of the whole person, which occurs both in and outside the classroom, on and off campus. Students grow from their academic, social, cultural, athletic, and residential experiences. That growth is made especially powerful when students integrate out-of-class opportunities with in-class learning. A Knox education is, then, a residential education, enhanced by experiences which actively involve students, faculty, and staff in an intellectual community.
These goals of a Knox education require that students develop and strengthen abilities to inquire, to analyze, and to communicate and express by critical reading, observation, and listening; creative and aesthetic exploration and interpretation; qualitative, quantitative, experiential methods; rigorous formulation, testing, and interpretation of hypotheses and theories; informed use of technology; and persuasive argumentation and effective written and oral expression. Students use these abilities to form reasoned judgments, express them to others, and put them into practice.
Knox graduates are prepared to pursue their life's ambitions, and to do so with deeper and richer understandings, aspirations, responsibility and purpose. They are committed to put learning to use, to adapt, and to embrace change. Knox graduates are prepared for success and an appreciation of the personal and social responsibilities that success entails.