Well Rounded Education Is Key to Success
Today’s education is too focused on the success of students in math and science to truly help them learn and become active members of society with future careers. While STEM programs are being pushed all over America, very few programs for the arts or humanities are being driven into today’s education. In today’s schools, we have a certain stigma that if you’re the smartest in your class, you have to be the best at math and science- but that is not necessarily true. In the essay “Dehumanized: When math and science rule the school,” by Mark Slouka, he argues against the standard of focusing on Math and Science in our school systems. Today’s society should keep its focus on giving children a well-rounded education to help students learn how to coop with critical thinking, rid the stigma of success in a strictly STEM workforce and help preserve the democratic values of our society as a whole.
The benefits of having a well-rounded education are quite significant and include some of the following- “Students who tackle a broad subject range tend to have better-developed life attributes, such as creativity, persistence, and the ability to communicate” (Brain Chase). Also, “students who participate in some sort of education requiring movement and exercise tend to have higher cognitive abilities” (Brain Chase). One of the largest benefits of a well-rounded education is the enhancement of their critical thinking skills. As Saluka says in his essay, “we can cite “numerous studies” affirming that “a student schooled in music improves his or her SAT and ACT scores in math,” and that “creative students are better problem solvers… a trait the business world begs for in its workforce” (Slouka 36). Critical thinking is one of the staples of a great employee and is one of the best investments for a company. As stated, critical thinking is important because it ensures you have the best answer to a problem, and that leads to an outcome which will ultimately save your business time, money and stress.
One of the many reasons that humanities are struggling to bring more students into their lines of work, is the lack of capital that is in the field. Math and science are two of today’s largest growing industries in our society, but not everyone is going to be successful or enjoy this line of work if it is continued to be pushed. Subjects like philosophy, literature, languages, and rhetoric were seen as the pinnacles of learning and the world’s greatest minds were as comfortable with humanities as well as math/ science. But, as society has shifted towards innovation and technological development, the human sciences are often neglected or disdained as soft subjects without practical application. Again, continued education in STEM may not be ideal for all as the reality of the scientific world is that research funding is often dictated by politics. All scientific projects can be dependent on cultural shifts as well- think about current events and the ways in which politicians leverage infectious diseases, climate science, and technological breakthroughs. Anyone can argue that the arts may not bring in as much of a salary, but what society defines as success should not be true to everyone. Everyone should be able to have their own ambitions in order to be happy. The meaning of life is to give life meaning, and everyone has different values that shape their equally different and unique opinions of what they want to do with their life. Therefore, success is subjective.
One of America’s biggest achievement as a country is that we are a strong democratic society, and an education that would deter focus in the humanities would jeopardize that. As Slouka argues, “If we lack the language, and therefore the awareness, to right the imbalance between the vocational and the civic, if education in America… is no longer in the business of producing the kinds of citizens necessary to the survival of a democratic society, it’s in large part because… our educational system has been ground up by the ideological mills of both the right and the left into a radioactive paste called values education and declared off-limits…Worried about indoctrination, we’ve short-circuited argument. Fearful of propaganda, we’ve taken away the only tools that could detect and counter it” (Slouka 37). Also, As science and technology progress, it’s important to constantly reassess the ethical and cultural impact of the development. Doing this requires a thorough understanding of the literary, cultural, religious, and social influences that impact society. On to of that, a society strictly based on Math and Science, we lose our values as a society to right wrongs, and we lead ourselves down a path of corruption. “The humanities, in short, are a superb delivery mechanism for what we might call democratic values” (Slouka 37), and these values are presented in the whole of our society.
In conclusion, our society needs to provide our children with well-rounded educations to provide the best workers possible, rid the sigma of success under these STEM programs and hold true to our democratic values. Humanities are being phased out of many schools to make room for million-dollar grants in the fields of Math and Science. These grants, while great for the students that can prosper in this line of work, also leaves those who excel in critical thinking and other areas of study to fend for themselves. Humanities might not have the funding or political backing that these other subjects have, but this should not turn students away from succeeding in another field (Annual federal appropriations for STEM education are typically in the range of $2.8 billion to $3.4 billion. The National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) today announced $29 million in awards for 215 humanities projects across the country). Investments in the humanities fields are well worth the cost to the American taxpayer. The future of the nation depends on students having a stigma-free, well-rounded education that will prepare them to successfully compete on a global stage and engage as citizens in our democratic society.
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