Thursday, June 12, 2014

What are the Humanities? Any Course not a STEM course?

This provocative interview of President Obama raises the issue, in my opinion.  His definition of the Humanities appears to be this:  Anything offered by the Academy other than science, technology, engineering and math, regardless of its rigor or the lack of it.  He implies, further, that we don't need "Humanities" all that much anymore and certainly not now.

We have, after all, the media elites.  They can do the thinking for us.

The word "Humanities," however, derives from the 16th Century Humanists, those artists, scholars, theologians, philosophers, princes, musicians, even merchants, builders, soldiers and sailors, and other people who were readers and mainly lived in or had their economic base in cities.  These are the people who ushered in the Renaissance and the Reformation, all on the back of a revolution in technology, with such things as the printing press, advances in architecture, vessels that could sail around the world, and the precursors of modern weaponry.  Some of these people were competent in Latin, Greek,  Hebrew, and even Aramaic ("Chadlean"), the wisdom of the Ancients.  They had the ability to translate and communicate such wisdom into the vernacular and to apply it all to rapidly changing circumstances.  They were keen observers; they mastered critical thinking and the craft of their respective callings.  Oh, for more of those people now!

To separate true "Humanities" and "STEM" is simply folly.

No comments: