David Brooks, an op-ed writer for the New York Times, kicks off his article entitled, “History for Dollars” with this witty line, “When the going gets tough, the tough take accounting” (Brooks). Yet the article becomes increasingly less upbeat, as Brooks writes about the decline of the liberal arts education.
Liberal arts majors are rapidly decreasing (Brooks). Brooks argues that this trend is due to people overlooking the benefits of humanities courses, due to the of lack security when it comes time to search for a job. Especially when the global economy is in shambles, people are less likely to study the arts while other majors, which may offer more concrete job paths, which create a sense of security.
Florida Governor Rick Scott argues that “anthropologists are not needed.” I was intrigued by how strongly people have reacted against liberal arts with the idea that people who do not study Chemistry will end up homeless. Frankly, I see this as absurdity, and I’m not alone. One reason why the statements from the Florida Governor are ironically incorrect is that there are successful anthropologists who are active in helping the business industry, including “a host of fortune 500 companies” that employ them. Seeing as the state’s football program is granted more than ten times the amount that they pay to the anthropology department, I think it is fruitless to argue that Social Science is unnecessary in a bad economy (PlosBlogs).
In the past “the line between ‘liberal arts’ and ‘vocational studies’ was not bright,” (Ferall) argues that the great Vitruvius was quoted as a humanist, encouraging students of architecture to also study “philosophy, history and other arts” (Ferall). This was to form a balanced student with knowledge in a myriad of subjects (Ferall).
Brooks writes about the benefits of studying arts and other humanistic fields. Learning how to read and write well, becoming “familiarity with language of emotion,” helps marketing, bolstering companies and “branding” (Brooks). As well as the general ability to understand people, as we live in a “social environment,” (Brooks) where language is applicable and essencial to life. My impression from McKay was that human nature was key in humanism. I think this is similar to the idea of living in a social environment because language is all around us, and to interpret our world, and other people, we have a dire need to learn as much about it as possible. Society is dependent on text and language, without with people would not be able to communicate with one another.
John D. Blanco, a literature professor at The University of California, San Diego, comments on the subject as well. He emphasizes the importance of “[Thinking] globally, [acting] locally,” and that in order to do so, one needs a strong grasp in the following areas: “critical thinking, historical method, foreign language competency, reading analysis, communication the power of rhetorical and artistic self-expression and intellectual empathy” (Guardian Opinion). Personally, I agree.
Brooks, David. “History for Dollars.” The New York Times – Breaking News, World News & Multimedia. New York Times, 07 June 2010. Web. 01 Feb. 2012. <http://www.nytimes.com/2010/06/08/opinion/08brooks.html?ref=davidbrooks>.
McKay, John. Western Society: A Brief History. London [u.a.: Palgrave MacMillan
“On The Record: On the Value of a Liberal Arts Edcuation.” The Guardian. University of California, San Diego, 6 Oct. 2011. Web. 8 Feb. 2012. <http://www.ucsdguardian.org/component/k2/item/25003-on-the-record-on-the-value-of-a-liberal-arts-education>.
“Top 10 Most Expensive Colleges in the World | Most Costly.” Most Costly | Most Expensive Things in the World. Web. 10 Feb. 2012. <http://www.mostcostly.com/most-expensive-colleges>.