Humanities in Higher Education: Pros and Cons

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Humanities in Higher Education: Pros and Cons by Mind Map: Humanities in Higher Education: Pros and Cons

1. Pros

1.1. General understanding of ourselves and others

1.1.1. Sarah argues in her article that humanities such as history, art, music, movies, stories, etc. teach us how to express our humanity. "We understand ourselves and our world through the telling of stories. Visual dramas teach us sympathy, empathy, pity, encouraging us to break out of our solipsistic shells. They explore ethical issues, ask challenging questions, inform the way we view each other. Today we live in a culture more defined by images and stories than ever before." (Churchwell)

1.1.2. This is important because we cannot be happy in life until we are happy with ourselves and it starts by understanding "being" a human.

1.2. Distracts/takes away from careerism

1.2.1. "Kronman, however, identifies science, technology and careerism as impediments to living a life with meaning. The real enemies, he declares, are 'the careerism that distracts from life as a whole' and 'the blind acceptance of science and technology that disguise and deny our human condition." (Fish)

1.3. Helps guide us to the meaning of life

1.3.1. "The humanities are where we locate our own lives, our own meanings; they embrace thinking, curiosity, creation, psychology, emotion. The humanities teach us not only what art is for, but what life might be for, what this strange existence might mean." (Churchwell)

1.4. Traits of humanities CAN help your career

1.4.1. "Curiosity, creativity, and empathy aren’t unruly traits that must be reined in to ensure success. Just the opposite. The human touch has never been more essential in the workplace than it is today. You don’t have to mask your true identity to get paid for your strengths." (Strauss)

1.4.2. It is stressed multiple times that humanities are needed to succeed in any career path as you take it with you daily, everywhere you go, everything you do and think, all comes down to humanities. If it goes untaught, it goes unnoticed for yourself and takes away great opportunities for your future.

1.5. It creates more open mindedness

1.5.1. “For Freire literacy was not a means to prepare students for the world of subordinated labor or ‘careers’, but a preparation for a self-managed life. And self-management could only occur when people have fulfilled three goals of education: self-reflection, that is, realizing the famous poetic phrase, ‘know thyself’, which is an understanding of the world in which they live, in its economic, political and, equally important, its psychological dimensions.” (Giroux)

1.5.2. "That is not to say that adults cannot benefit from broadening their understanding by attending humanities classes. They can and should. But their immediate need increases the emphasis and urgency on focusing on preparing their minds for more productive roles. Thus the preparation of the mind of these students takes center stage.” (Fortino)

2. Cons

2.1. Not beneficial for all career paths

2.1.1. Students are increasingly drawn to vocational majors in subjects like business, medicine, science, and education. “The purpose of the humanities is not primarily utilitarian, it is not primarily to get a job ... The purpose of the humanities is to cultivate the individual, cultivate the citizen.” (Gilbert)

2.2. This benefits politics more than us

2.2.1. “Freire was acutely aware that what makes critical pedagogy so dangerous to ideological fundamentalists, the ruling elites, religious extremists, and right-wing nationalists all over the world is that central to its very definition is the task of educating students to become critical agents who actively question and negotiate the relationships between theory and practice, critical analysis and common sense, and learning and social change. Critical pedagogy opens up a space where students should be able to come to terms with their own power as critically engaged citizens; it provides a sphere where the unconditional freedom to question and assert is central to the purpose of public schooling and higher education, if not democracy itself.” (Giroux)

2.2.2. "As a performative practice, pedagogy takes as one of its goals the opportunity for students to be able to reflectively frame their own relationship to the ongoing project of an unfinished democracy. It is precisely this relationship between democracy and pedagogy that is so threatening to so many of our educational leaders and spokespersons today." (Giroux)

2.2.3. "The current ongoing assault on research in the humanities aims to limit the possibility that the humanities will expose not only the imperfect ethical character of our political and economic systems, and the hollow character of the work many people are locked into for most of their lives, but also the degree to which our understanding of human nature is unjustified and unwarranted." (Nelson)

2.3. The humanities field is decreasing and making it harder to get a career in the profession

2.3.1. "Be aware that you will be investing five or six years of life in a process that may not yield a place in the college teaching profession and that a job in a major research university is even less likely. Those who do get such jobs often begin elsewhere and get noticed by writing important articles and books. Graduate students in the humanities are usually those who loved learning as undergraduates, but—and these categories are not mutually exclusive—they may also be people who didn’t know what else to do." (Schwarz)

2.4. Humanities education is going away in Universities

2.4.1. "No one predicted that 2010–12 would be the years of humanities program closures at the University at Albany and elsewhere. While press hostility to tenure has been on the rise for several years, we weren’t expecting legislative assaults on tenure." (Nelson)