While we certainly should be alarmed when test scores in our schools drop and student performance in science falls below that of other countries, I believe we underestimate the role the humanities play in a person’s education. One need only look to student performance in the past, when music, art, literature, foreign language and history enjoyed equal footing with science and math in our public schools.
To many, Thomas Jefferson personifies the ideal educated American. Besides being a lawyer and politician, he was a scientist, a writer, a fluent speaker of five languages, an inventor, an accomplished musician, an innovative farmer and a connoisseur of fine art and literature. Albert Einstein may have been a great scientific mind, but one thing that humanized him was his passion for music. Diversity made each a complete human being.
The understanding of their culture and history among many young people today is deplorable. Teaching courses that encourage students to think on the meaning of life or give them an appreciation for and participation in the arts will reap higher performance across the curriculum. The more well-rounded a person’s education, the more likely their test scores will rise.
The word humanities says it all. It puts the humanity into education.
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Tom Bauer, Morro Bay