One of the things that I think a good liberal education ought foster (and most definitely ought not squash) is creativity. In support of this I would suggest a read of a few chapters of Abraham Maslow's The Farthest Reaches of Human Nature. Part II of the book, Creativeness, includes chapters entitled "The Creative Attitude," "A Holistic Approach to Creativity," "Emotional Blocks to Creativity," and "The Need for Creative People." While nothing he says is surprising given his emphasis on self-actualization as both an individual and a public good, and as related to his views on education, the chapters are still worth a read many decades after he made his arguments. We seem to have missed his point, sometimes very willfully, about the ways that all education -- regardless of level or area -- can be informed by a more thorough understanding of art education. Here, his relation between experiential learning and other forms of learning is also relevant. (See here for some insight. And here for Psychology Today on Maslow and creativity. ) Perhaps the best quote on this from Maslow, borrowed from the immediately preceding link is "a first rate soup is more creative than a second rate painting." Who knew?)
The American Association of Colleges and Universities (AACU) does include a creativity rubric in its assessment work. (Yes, there is some risk that, poorly done, such rubrics actually have the opposite impact from what is intended, but . . . . not if used wisely). They define creativity this way: "Creative thinking is both the capacity to combine or synthesize existing ideas, images, or expertise in original ways and the experience of thinking, reacting, and working in an imaginative way characterized by a high degree of innovation, divergent thinking, and risk taking." (Source: http://www.aacu.org/value/rubrics/creative-thinking ) While I think this definition may not cover everything in the way of creativity -- such as the creation of artworks and engineering designs, it does remind us that when we think about what liberal education -- and indeed Shimer -- accomplishes and/or ought accomplish, enhancing creativity is an important goal!
Yes, we can! Yes, we must! Yes, we do!