Daily Archives: October 12, 2014

Nature Nurtures the Liberal Arts

By Adam Thompson

Nature answers all he asks; 
Hand in hand with her he walks,
Face to face with her he talks, 
Part and parcel of her joy,— 
Blessings on the barefoot boy! 
From John Greenleaf Whittier’s “The Barefoot Boy”

Screen Shot 2014-10-12 at 12.35.27 PMThough Whittier’s Romantic conception of Nature as a benevolent female companion to the barefoot boy may blithely paper over the often brutal character of a natural order that is frequently indifferent to man’s plight, the characterization nonetheless illuminates the great potential for learning that Nature extends to those who requite her offers of love. The barefoot boy who delights in the manifold sights, smells, sounds, and textures of Nature will grow into a man alive, a man better able to appreciate the poetic mysteries of the created order and to master the fickle temperament and prickly perils of his moody friend. In fact, the barefoot boy perfectly captures one of the touchstones of a liberal arts education— Nature provides the ideal learning environment for a boy to discover the true meaning of his freedom. Continue reading Nature Nurtures the Liberal Arts