Wednesday, June 18, 2014

An Article for the Days When You Wonder Why the Humanities Matter

I am guessing that many readers of this blog work in some field of the humanities.  Those of us who teach may wonder why we're doing this work.  Lately it seems that not a week goes by when we don't read--again!--about the death of the humanities.  We're urged to push students into STEM fields where they can make more money.

As an English major from way back, I'm always glad to come across articles like this one in The Atlantic, articles that remind us of why the humanities continue to be relevant.  The article discusses a doctoral student who is finding that current brain science supports the theories of poetry that Ezra Pound articulated.

But what I liked best was the political science scholar who articulates why it's important to teach students the skills of critical thinking:  “'Politics . . . is more complex than the science side of the government department would ever even guess. It consists of our arguments to each other about what is right and what is best and what has been and what should be. To only study behavior—to measure the exact amount of the incumbency advantage, for example—is not even close to what politics really is, which is a form of moral discourse. The humanities offer the only means of accessing that moral discourse.'”

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