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Point of View: What a Wonderful World It Would Be

Thu, 09/07/2023 - 05:58

They say that collegians are majoring in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) subjects these days, not in English or the humanities, which I can understand, science being of critical importance in keeping us afloat.

But there’s still something to be said, I think, for the value of a liberal arts education with courses in history, literature, and languages, whose ultimate gift is to enrich our lives, to make us more knowledgeable citizens of the world, and to make us ever more mindful of one another — mutual understanding having it over mutually assured destruction when it comes to averting Armageddon.

I would suggest too, ours reputedly being an egalitarian society, that STEM majors be required to study some history, some literature, and the rudiments of a foreign language to round them out. (The French side of my family found a good number of Americans boring inasmuch as they were specialists, johnny-one-notes, not generalists.)

Plus, being almost illiterate when it comes to STEM subjects, I would love it if these science majors were taught to write clearly. (I know, I know, obfuscation seems to be all the rage these days, at least when it comes to just about any communication one receives from governments, corporations, insurance companies, auto dealerships, law firms. . . .) 

There ought to be a required clear-writing course for STEM majors, for everyone really. What a wonderful world it would be.

Back to the liberal arts, I doubt STEM courses would be of great value were they not to include, as aforesaid, some history, as in the history of science, the history of technology, et cetera. Concerning history, Santayana famously said that “those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it,” but he also said, later on in “The Life of Reason,” that “history is always written wrong, and so always needs to be rewritten.”

With that caveat, history, while it needn’t be swallowed whole at first blush, is a subject obviously linked to whatever progress we humans have made, though we should remain mindful that those who dwell only in the past are condemned to be boring.


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