With the constant push for education focused on science, mathematics, and technology since I was in high school I always think:
What about english? Or arts? Or humanities?
Where are the advocates of a higher standard of english language (those that aren’t already secure in their ivory tower).
What is it that we do faster, with larger audiences, and more often? We communicate and create.
We use the english language (or whatever language happens to be the modus operandi of the moment) constantly and it strikes me between the eyes at the level which we employ it. The average adult in the U.S. reads at or below an 8th grade level, while nearly 20% are functionally illiterate1.
If the future is to be so heavily reliant upon emerging communication and publishing platforms, why are we not encouraging education focused on english, humanities and the arts?
Yes, STEM education (as it’s been acronymized)–and I forgot Engineering from my earlier list–is important for developing new technology, pushing the boundaries of the known universe, and creating highway horrors, and even its proponents have some reasonable things to say:
Dr. Stage, a mathematician by training, thinks it’s a “false distinction” to “silo out” the different disciplines, and would much prefer to focus on what the fields have in common, like problem-solving, arguing from evidence and reconciling conflicting views. “That’s what we should have in the bulls’-eye of our target,” she said.
Of the three similarities, that are emphasized by Dr. Stage, two are based on the ability to communicate. Arguing and reconciling are two exceptionally important modes of communication and depriving them of english and humanity studies, no less the powerful strokes that storytelling and the other arts provide, mean they are less capable of understanding, analyzing and composing when there isn’t wholly conclusive data to stand on–which there rarely is.
The trend in communication is that we are going to be reading more and publishing more. While we might not be reading traditional materials or composing letters or thesis papers, a majority of new communication is written because it is still one of the fastest, densest, and thorough ways to create understandable content.
Humanities teach us about being human which is a sorely lacking department, language studies teach us how to communicate and the arts teach us about the creative process.
Perhaps more important than building a better car, discovering the edge of the known universe, or building a new social network is exploring what it means to be human, how to communicate with others and how to be creative with others.