My roommate has paranormal powers. This morning I was lying in bed, partially awake, just lying there blissful in the knowledge that I did not have my first class until 11:30 a.m. and was content to watch the clock tick down until 11:20 a.m., at which point I would get up, brush my teeth and run over to class. All of a sudden, at about 10 a.m., the door bursts opens and in comes my roommate, Matt, holding a banana. "Check out my psychic powers!" he yells.

Now I am no longer partially awake. He motions to the banana with three karate chops, yelling "CHOP" with every one—but at no point does he actually make contact with the banana.

He then proceeded to unpeel the banana and lo and behold, while the peel was in one piece, the banana inside was cut into four pieces, the result of three perfect cuts, one of which he shoves into my sleepy face. I'll leave you to figure out the trick.

This is the beauty of the liberal arts education, the ability to be surrounded by interesting people with a wide range of abilities, coming together to learn how to better use their minds. I am quite sure that without the education that Matt has accrued in his now almost three and a half years of Bowdoin, he never would have been able to cut that banana with his brain.

The liberal arts education is designed to be an obstacle course for the mind; around every corner is a novel challenge that we would never encounter outside of the obstacle course, and we have to find a way to move past it and move on to the next one. If you make it through, you get a little trophy or ribbon.

Within the liberal arts education, a student is brought through a gauntlet of mental challenges, and each one he must strive to get past in order to finish the semester, and move on to the next challenge, the next course.

After 32 separate obstacle credits, if a student can make it through, he is, as with the obstacle course, awarded a little prize—a diploma that says to the world (as well as potential employers and graduate school admissions counselors), "I did it."

Now therein lies the problem. While it is impressive that the winning contestant on American Gladiators has passed all of the challenges, besides being crowned the weekly champion, what does that victory mean?

Chances are, while walking down the road, he will never again encounter a situation in which he will need to swing on rings high above a swimming pool while being pelted by tennis balls and tracked down by a steroidal gladiator in sparkling spandex tights. None of these skills are individually marketable (or at least I would assume as such).

Likewise, the holder of the liberal arts diploma has no particular skill set, just the proof that he has the potential to master a variety of disparate skill sets. For some reason, within our society this has become more valued than actual mastery of any singular physical or mental craft.

So thanks to this societal mindset, so many of us wanting to achieve mastery of some ability are left to face the reality that several more years of graduate school is our reality. We came here to learn, and we did. Unfortunately, while learning how to learn is important, learning and compiling useful and applicable knowledge is too.

Maybe this is why I have nightmares about China taking over. Maybe the fact that they have not yet developed the liberal arts and instead the average person can do and make things gives them a massive tactical advantage over we Americans who are left to theorize on what would happen if...

But don't worry; no foreign power is coming here any time soon. What would they want from us anyway? We have used up the natural resources and outsourced what was once the most productive labor force in the history of the world.

In any case, if they did come, I'm sure we could put together an army of thinkers who could reason and debate with the enemy and ensure them that, hypothetically, we could and would win, or, once again hypothetically, none of this is real anyways. And regardless, if all else fails, my roommate Matt tells me that he could chop them all from the inside out, just like the banana.

Michael Rothschild is a member of the Class of 2010.