Writing well used to be a fundamental principle of the humanities, as essential as the knowledge of mathematics and statistics in the sciences. But writing well isn’t merely a utilitarian skill. It is about developing a rational grace and energy in your conversation with the world around you.

Verlyn Klinkenborg’s op-ed in the NYT’s got me falling in love with (or at least rediscovering faith in) the value of a liberal arts degree, all over again. And, she implicitly brings up a question I’ve been brooding over for a while: if learning is a lifelong process, then why does it seem like society is increasingly rewarding only skills and talents that are immediately applicable? What about the skills that keep us the learners, in addition to the ones that make us the learned?