This morning, I saw this article in the Seattle Times: As STEM majors soar at UW, interest in humanities shrinks - a potentially costly loss1. I had to read it as I’ve long been concerned about the impact the heavy focus on STEM will have in the long run. It really seems that we are seeing our higher learning institutions become trade schools. They are about employment above anything. Jobs are always at the center, aren’t they?
When we say you need an education that will provide you with a good, high-paying job, you are saying, “I can’t imagine a world that is any different from the one we are living in.” Education is an opportunity to create that new world, not to crystalize the one we are in. It is the generations coming up that will build the world where jobs aren’t central. But we have to give them the space to dream it up. How on earth can they if we push them into a university system that only teaches them skills, and not how to dream?
The humanities are about just that. Dreaming. One of the core functions of the human being.
Interesting, the headline on seattletimes.com now reads “Looking for experts on the Civil War? Ancient Greece? Sanskrit? You won’t find any at the UW — here’s why.” It’s a much less accurate depiction of the headline. I suppose it gets more clicks, though.↩