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Article Review: Humanities vs. STEM

A photo by Patrick Tomasso.

Recently, a concerned Cara Putman had shared an article about parents who discouraged their college-age children from selecting  a major within the humanities department. After reading the article about College Students & Humanities , I was also concerned.

Why would parents want to dissuade their children from the voracious love of learning literature, exploring the world of art and music, taking up the pen and writing? Although important, education and teaching are not the end-all thrust of a humanities major.

True, we live in a techno world and thrive on its savvy uses for daily living and business strategy. However, I’m not discrediting STEM courses at all — they are very important to our society and culture, with nearly the entire population online, conversing through social media, and we certainly need skilled engineers to build our buildings and create safe havens for us, scientists to preserve the validity of our universe, math geeks to keep the world organized, LOL, and tech-savvy people to help us when our computers are sick. What I am crediting is that there is still a need for both STEM and the humanities.

But if we don’t encourage today’s students to explore, study, and appreciate the humanities, how will future generations learn how to read, develop critical thinking skills, or pronounce a seventeen-letter word correctly? How will future generations own words and meaning for themselves? How will they fill out job applications accurately? How will they communicate? Surely we can’t have robots do all the work and succumb ourselves to a Wall-E world! 😉

As long as there are people, there shall be words, and there will be those who write them, read them, explain them because, to quote the most literary Book (even according to Richard Dawkins) in the world, the King James Bible, “The words of the Lord are pure,” (Ps. 12:6) and “they shall not return to me void.” (Isa. 55:11). In John 1:1, God was the Word itself; therefore, words have transcended time.

words ray bradbury you don't have to burn books

My favorite word-preserved fiction novel is Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451. In it, Bradbury preserves the beauty of words, books, and the art of thinking, and this was back in the 1960s. Without an appreciation for words, we die a slow and painful death — the death of leaving empty brains numb in a body shell.

Are most parents’ hopes for their children choosing a STEM major in college as a return on the parents’ investment a decline  on the value of books and writing and free, creative thinking? I may have struck a shaky string here, but I think it’s a topic worth reviewing. I’d love to hear your civil thoughts. 🙂

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