It’s only fair that I start this blog post by admitting something: I am just as guilty as anyone else about stressing the virtues of a STEM-based education (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) over all else. The facts are that we live in a world increasingly reliant on the fundamentals of technological application and research, and the jobs of the future undoubtedly have a direct correlation to these studies. But in my defense, the reason why I so vigorously stress STEM is for its roots in research, the very same principles I would hope to derive from a well executed History or English experience.
The liberal arts tend to be pushed to the side as meaningless wastes of time (Who needs to memorize a bunch of dates and historical figures when we have Wikipedia in our pockets? Why waste valuable seat time reading fictional texts that in another setting would constitute leisure?), but the content associated with the class and the underlying learning at the core of the class are two vastly different beasts altogether. History class is not about memorizing what date Hitler invaded Poland; English class is not about reciting Iago’s second soliloquy (though admittedly these are fun bonuses that come in handy when hitting on a girl at a library). History class is about examining a blended set of fact and hearsay, weighing credibility, and discerning research-based conclusions regarding niftily crafted theses; English class is about immersing oneself in a narrative, tracking its path within a group of patterns, tracing the evolution of an original thought, and constructing a point-by-point intellectual diorama based on a series of tangible data points.
These traits really don’t seem all that different from the ideals of the scientific method. At the end of the day, the skills and thought processes derived from a liberal arts education walk hand-in-hand with those at the core of STEM. When applied and consumed correctly, they render a student capable of searching through and digesting an array of consumable information, and constructing an enlightened opinion utilizing that elusive competency known as reason. In the real world, reason can take you quite far, and it’s not as prevalent as one might think.
While the content is often not as directly applicable to the emerging landscape of the future career, liberal arts classes undoubtedly teach a student.
So let’s give them a break for once.
(Just kidding. STEM is the way to go.)
P.S. Is there such a thing as Conservative Arts??
The opinions expressed in Reimagining K-12 are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.