Sciences vs. the Humanities in Schools

I love a good debate, but it has been a while since I have had the opportunity to flex my “verbal discussion” muscles. Last night, an Australian friend and I got into a heated debate about the places of art and science in the worldwide educational system. She felt that there was an unfair bias towards the sciences (which I will explain in a moment) and I decided to take the position that this was a good and appropriate bias.

 

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The Debate

 

The debate came about because my friend was frustrated with the way her IB (International Baccalaureate) curriculum was set up. The basis of her complaint was that a student majoring in the sciences could study science without studying art, whereas someone majoring in the arts (such as herself) were forced to take science classes (physics, etc). She felt that this was not fair because it represented an imbalance between the degrees.

 

I argued that it was important that all students participate in science classes because they represent fundamental knowledge of the the world in which we live today. Without understanding some degree of science you cannot understand the technological world in which we live. Moreover, the sciences have the greatest capacity to change tho world. Major advancements in human history have come about because of science, not because of other forms of study. This is not to belittle or demean the arts in any way… but the fact of the matter is that a painting has never cured a disease. In essence, if taking a science class has even the slightest chance to inspire a young person towards a new invention, then it is worthwhile.

 

My argument is that the sciences are so fundamental to the world in which we live that they should constitute an appreciable part of every complete education. From this perspective, though, it is easy to fall down the slippery slope of cutting out the arts from schools in order to meet budgets… which I also do not agree with.

 

 

Opinions

 

Back in high school we were assigned a side to a debate and had to support that side – which, at times, meant supporting things we did not agree with like eugenics or the white man’s burden. In the case of the argument in this post, my opinion is actually that every student should have a well-rounded education. Which is to say, for example, that engineers should be forced to study writing and art – even public speaking, as the Greeks once did. All too frequently I encounter engineers in my field who cannot communicate effectively.

 

Moreover, as many others have pointed out, only by studying the mistakes of those before us (history) can we avoid them in the future. Eugenics is actually a perfect example of what happens when we have a society too devoted to the sciences without thinking about the human repercussions. When put simply, it is very easy for even very smart people to be taken in by the idea of eugenics because does appear (at first) to be so well-based in science. If you are not familiar with the movement, check out the YouTube video below.

 

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IaH0Ws8RtSc

 

I think it is a shame that so many schools are removing music and other creative pursuits from their curricula, as these skills undoubtedly lead towards creativity. In essence, science is the foundation upon which innovation is born (because it represents the truths and laws of the universe), but the other disciplines are what build upon this foundation to actually create something.

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Zane Claes
I post twice-weekly about using self-experimentation in order to find out what can improve your life the most. If you liked what you just read, why not subscribe via RSS, Facebook or Twitter?You'll find plenty of charts and data from my own experiments, handy resources to start your own, and general findings to boost your quality of life.
  • Max Hydrogen

    Dans les cours de Sciences, on apprend comment faire quelque chose et comment quelque chose fonctionne. C’est soit vrai ou faux; ça fonctionne ou non. Mais dans les cours d’arts et Lettres on doit lécher le cul (kiss ass) du professeur et accepter le dogme contemporain. J’ai eu un cours de littérature allemande dans quel les meilleurs étudiants furent ceux qui étaient toujours d’accord avec le prof. Ces cours enseignent seulement l’art du “bullshitting” et sont basés sur l’opinion de gens qui sont reconnus simplement parce qui,ils sont reconnus.

    J’assigne plus de crédibilité à quelqu’un qui a passé un cours de Science qu’un cours d’Art et Lettres.

    (Je soupçonne que les étudiantes aient plus d’habileté dans les cours d’Arts et Lettres et que les étudiants en aient plus dans les cours de Sciences.)

  • http://www.languatica.com Georgi Georgiev

    How about the correlation
    between Arts and Creativity? A beautiful paining or a movie can never directly
    cure decease but could easily inspire someone to work on the idea.

    • http://LifeByExperimentation.com Zane the Experimenter

      You defeated your own argument in your very choice of words (“correlation” as opposed to “causality”). Have a look at this article ;)  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Correlation_does_not_imply_causation 

      • http://www.languatica.com Georgi Georgiev

        You got me! At least I deserve some bonus points for expressing myself in English as a second language.

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