Don't Throw The Baby Out With The Bath Water
That’s what we’ll do if in our zeal to create a workforce with a mastery over technology eclipses our commitment to providing balanced curricula that include the Classics, softer sciences and humanities.
Sure, we as a society know that we need a skilled workforce: welders, technicians, plumbers, truck drivers, carpenters, health care providers, etc. We recognize the value of a job. We recognize the value of work. We get it.
But doesn’t the value of education extend beyond the mere teaching of a skill? Is there worth in knowing that an Elizabethan sonnet usually has 14 lines and is written in iambic pentameter? Is there value in being at least conversant regarding Plato’s Meno? History, literature, art, science, math, music, politics, government, economics… Isn’t there value in knowing the difference between an oligopoly and a monopoly -- and how they operate in a capitalistic system? What principles distinguish a democracy from a theocracy or socialism or communism?
I submit there is great value in having a firm grasp of these topics within our store of knowledge. I submit that there is value in a well-educated society. I submit that it enables us to build a better government. I submit it provides for much more competitive businesses and, thus, a stronger economy.
Look around the world at the strongest economic regions. They are usually the regions that are the best educated. Look at the regions that are the safest, the ones that have the most pristine shorelines, parks and forests.
We also know from countless surveys of human resource professionals that critical-thinking skills, the ability to reason, examine evidence and draw conclusions are all lucrative assets in short supply across many of today’s companies. So too are oral and written communications skills. A liberal arts education sharpens all these and, when complemented by science and engineering savvy, results in a fleet, flexible and formidable workforce.
You know the saying, “Follow the money”. I say, follow the educated.
Come to think of it they both usually lead to the same place.
But whatever we do, let’s not throw the baby out with the bath water.