Friday, June 21, 2013

David Brooks mourns the loss of the humanities education

David Brooks has a post on the decline of the humanities. He seems not to understand that educating students to think critically has been under attack for quite some time now. His president, GW Bush, focused money and attention on "teaching to the test." It has been a cataclysmic failure.

Of course for Brooks, the Ivies are the benchmark. Brooks notes: "Even over the last decade alone, the number of incoming students at Harvard who express interest in becoming humanities majors has dropped by a third."

Brooks seems not to understand that that Ivies are the food source for the Wall Street Banks. An Ivy education focused on the humanities is not the best for those voracious enough to drag down the US economy and then expect a bonus as a result.

But the focus on the big bucks is not to blame. According to Brooks, humanities professors have "lost faith..." 
"Somewhere along the way, many people in the humanities lost faith in this uplifting mission. The humanities turned from an inward to an outward focus. They were less about the old notions of truth, beauty and goodness and more about political and social categories like race, class and gender. Liberal arts professors grew more moralistic when talking about politics but more tentative about private morality because they didn’t want to offend anybody."
Brooks does nail something right. He acknowledges the importance of the teachers who create thinkers out of teenagers: "A few years in that company leaves a lifelong mark."

Yes. A thousand times yes. Unfortunately, we live in a time where such teaching is belittled and devalued. And that is a tragedy for America.