What comes to mind when you hear the term innovation? Do you think of art, philosophy, English, or any humanities at all? Or do you think of science, technology, mathematics, and the competition between countries it produces to be the best? When I hear innovation I tend to think of the sciences and technology. Is this because I was taught in school that the future of our country depends on technology? Would one be wrong to assume that innovation in the humanities is just as relevant to our continued success as a society in the future as it is in the present? I don’t believe so. So why is the link between innovation and science to prevalent in our minds?
Before any of these questions can be answered you may need to think about why they are even being asked. One could debate my statement and say that humanities aren’t helping us as a society today, but would this question of which is more important need be asked if they weren’t even moderately equal of importance to our education? The reason we ask questions is because we can’t find an answer ourselves. If this debate of STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) vs. humanities had a clear winner I wouldn’t be considering this as a topic of concern for education reform. The fact that these two types of education concentration are being argued and debated assumes the fact that the topics are equal on some levels, showing that one is clearly not any better than the other.
It is very clear what the government and our current president think about this debate. Obama and the Department of Education have put great emphasis on STEM education. One can only assume that it is to keep with foreign competitors. Although I can see why this would be a desired achievement, I don’t understand why it’s ok to disregard all other education. American education in the past tends to be that of the humanities. We have somewhat of a reputation to teach the liberal arts, so why let it dwindle? The word humanities itself should be enough for you to see its importance. The base of the word is “human”; the humanities are simply the study of human conditions through analytical and critical thought. To deny the humanities is to, in a certain sense; deny that we are human beings. And for what? To prove that we are more intelligent than another country? Denying instincts to prove intelligence? Is being number one really worth neglecting the characteristic that separates us from the animals, or disregarding something our country is well known for doing? I don’t see in any logical way how it could be.
The perception of these topics changed drastically over the years. The images we have of kings and many other important figures in history have come from paintings. Portraits of kings were painted just as pictures are taken today; actors and plays were the entertainment, and literature was highly celebrated. King Louis XIV of France even went as far as paying and protecting certain artists and writers.
Attention was also paid to scientists at this and around this time, however not quite as positively. Galileo Galilee who is considered “The Father of Modern Science” was placed on house arrest for supporting views of a heliocentric universe, which in the Catholic Church’s eyes went against the scripture. How can something that was so celebrated, a mere reflection of true human nature be placed second to a machine, the most inhuman specimen?
Most universities are putting emphasis on STEM education. Almost any program list at a college has more science related degrees available than all other categories combined. Universities tend to be very career centered. Very few, if any, go to college for the sake of education. Most go for “job training”. Many people go to college, get certain degrees and certifications with the intention of entering a specific field, or even specific position. With this situation, and more STEM degrees offered, one could easily put the pieces together and assume that current educational institutions encourage STEM related degrees, possibly for their developmental and/or economical reasons. But once again, does this make the humanities an inferior school of thought? Not by any means.
It is all a mere matter of opinion, there is no right and no wrong, and it is well beyond black and white. Anyone who cares about a well rounded education would agree. We should not allow either ideology to surpass one another. They should be taught together in the right proportions. The idea of using one to aid the other one is also definitely a potential solution. We could utilize our advancements in technology to help teach and even understand the liberal arts. This type of solution would place these two on an even and respectable level. Schools of thought coexisting would be the ideal solution to please everyone. Neither is, nor ever will be “better” or more important than the other. Every idea on the superiority is all solely based on opinions. No matter the amount of tests, studies, or surveys will ever convince everyone, therefore no absolute answer will ever be given. My solution; stop arguing which is more important, and teach them both equally…