Humanities broaden students’ rhetorical potential
Published: Monday, October 8, 2012
Updated: Monday, October 8, 2012 21:10
Throughout elementary, middle and high school, emphasis was noticeably put on math and science. Thinking back, there were always opportunities for students to take advanced math or science courses, but rarely was there an opportunity for a student to take an advanced course in the humanities.
Perhaps this discussion should commence by looking at who benefits from math and science. Most argue that the students themselves are the most rewarded, but these students also benefit society. These are the students who will produce the technologies of the future, a wondrous thought for those of the older generation. Those in the older generation lived through an era of incredible technological advancement. In fact, since antiquity, humans have been obsessed with invention—inventions that are supposed make life easier and more pleasant. It seems this innate lust for technological advancement has not faded. Perhaps it never will.
Are humans bound by nature to be preoccupied with tools and technology? As far-fetched as it seems, the answer is yes. Humans cannot live without tools and technology. The ancients began their quest for technology with spears, huts and the wheel. Since then, humans have developed technology that to the ancients would seem celestial. The human mind has no boundaries when it comes to invention, an unfortunate fact that has been glorified as a magnificent characteristic of our species.
Math and science are forced upon students at an early age because our species is one of constant advancement. The students who excel in these areas will produce the technology of the future, technology that will solve the world’s pressing issues. What most humans forget is that technological advancement is the culprit behind the earth being in the state it is in: is it plausible that the solution to the earth’s problems is new technology? New technology solves the faults that previous technologies invoked, but what about the consequences of the new technology? Where does the cycle of unforeseen outcomes end?
The negatives outweigh the positives of novel technology in almost every case. If it is not destroying our environment, it is destroying our society. This generation is a lazy one. This statement is not meant to criticize for our generation knows no better. Our whole lives have been consumed by technology. It’s all we know and how we grew up. Can life get any easier? More importantly, does it need to get any easier?
These are questions our generation must consider. It has long been speculated in Sci-fi films that humans could bring about their own destruction using the technologies their minds are programmed to desire and design. It now seems these days are upon us. Nuclear weapons, a deteriorating atmosphere, the dangers of the Internet and even simple handguns are only a few of the dangers that are direct consequences of advancing technology.
Perhaps it truly is time to either go backwards or accept life for how it is at this day in age. This generation’s problems will not be solved by changes in technology. Rather, they will be solved by changes in society.
The civilizations of antiquity we reflect upon with awe, those of the Ancient Greeks, Romans and others, preached primarily the humanities to their young. While math and science were certainly a part of society, they were not the sole focus of an entire population. Technology will not bring about harmonious society; a population equipped with knowledge of how human civilization works will bring harmony to contemporary society.
Getting young students to think about how life works and how it could work better would without a doubt benefit future societies of the world. Teachers could start with the basics, simple questions and lessons. More lessons need be instituted for students to state their opinion, debate and become more complex thinkers, rather than continuing to focus on fact-based subjects like math.
There are those who will assert that this commentary is be incredibly biased and they will claim that the author is suggesting math and science be completely erased from schooling. Math and science are important; there is no debating this. What this commentary calls for is a revision of the school system to provide students with more of an opportunity to think complexly and learn about mankind. For when it comes time to make tough decisions regarding the future of mankind as it undoubtedly will in this deteriorating world, the students who excel in critical thinking, those who question everything they see and hear, those who understand the causes and effects of happenings in society, will be the ones to save our planet from destruction, not those who believe technology is the solution.