'/> Uncommon Hours: Why Our Planet Needs the Humanities
Blogging on culture, politics, and the environment since 2008.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Why Our Planet Needs the Humanities

It’s not a big leap from, say, the decline of humanities education in the U.S. and the surge of anti-intellectualism best personified by (though not restricted to) the Tea Party movement to the seemingly unstoppable collective suicide we’re committing by ravaging this planet.

In Kansas, the same legislators who defend coal-fired utility plants and annual prairie burning just voted to slash education budgets statewide, while nationwide, we’re looking at 150,000 to 300,000 teacher layoffs.

President Obama, who is holding firm on offshore drilling even as a massive disaster in the Gulf tragically illustrates the many ways this approach to energy independence is wrong-headed, has also taken the side of those who see education as predominantly serving to enhance corporate competitiveness in a global world rather than as a vital component in the preservation and enrichment of our democracy. His stated opposition (at once both politically shrewd and toothless) to the recent Supreme Court ruling on corporate citizenship and to Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer’s decision to hack that much farther into the civil liberties of Americans notwithstanding, Obama’s intensified standards for No Child Left Behind continue to denude our classrooms of any function beyond test preparation, which in turn deprives students of the humanistic knowledge and thinking skills needed to challenge the militant anti-intellectualism of the Palins, Becks, Limbaughs, and Bushes, who are waging a successful campaign against civility, learning, imaginative & critical thinking, and ultimately our democracy.

I found this piece by Troy Jollimore stimulating, as it addresses first causes and leads one to ask whether environmental sanity isn't directly connected to students having the opportunity to read widely in literature, philosophy, and history, and whether they will have teachers with the preparation, dedication, and resources needed to guide that reading and raise meaningful questions about it.

"Why Democracy Needs the Humanities"

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