by Ann Kjellberg, editor By many measures, study of the humanities has endured an unprecedented collapse since 2008. Our editor hunts down some villains.
I often argue that we need the arts and humanities MORE than we need STEM. After all, we already create enough food, clothing, shelter and other things to serve every person on Earth. We know how to create all the things we need; we just don't know how to care enough about humans to distribute those things fairly.
I’m interested in exploring more of public education’s influence even on private education. I teach English at a Catholic middle school and have previous curriculum that mainly focused on contemporary, non-fiction texts as opposed to classic fiction literature. I’ve started my own novel-based curriculum and it’s been a big shift to get kids to read and interpret fiction, like they have totally had critical and symbolic thinking removed over years of emphasis on nonfiction “informational” texts. Hard to pinpoint a single cause...
Amen, and then some.
Even before the Reagan presidency we had Reagan in California, along with Prop 13, and I think there's more to say about the early UC protests, starting with FSM, and even earlier with anti-HUAC, and certainly Vietnam War protests, not only in Berkeley but expanding everywhere, even the People's Park protests--all as inspiring an intense systemic backlash against the excellent widespread education that made possible such revolutionary fervor. Raising tuition & increasing loan debt kept students indentured and less free to object to what our educations revealed as a world of injustice, less available to apply critical thinking and imagination to the problem of US as empire. And so on. No need to rant. A great pair of articles, and a tragic reality. Thank you. (And hello!)
This is a wonderfully clear-eyed assessment, Ann. Thank you. Clearly you are putting your humanities training to good use. :) My friend Kate Marsh, who writes YA and middle-grade books, had a piece in the Atlantic a couple of months ago that lays bare some of the shortcomings of how kids are invited or forced to engage with reading; it might resonate with you. https://www.theatlantic.com/books/archive/2023/03/children-reading-books-english-middle-grade/673457/
To quote Charles Portis, because I can't help it: "Today’s young men were dazzled by the claims and presumptions of science. They had been taught to jeer at other systems of thought. Yes, the scientists were riding high these days, preening themselves over their latest triumph, the A-bomb. They were boastful men of insufferable pride, these materialists in white smocks who held the preposterous belief that nothing could be known but through the five senses. But the great wheel was turning and Mapes suspected that these fellows had had their day."
Great post! Much to think about.
Frightening this was put together by an editor. Aghast!
Thought provoking. As a writer of K12 fiction and nonfiction books, I paused at the common core requirements. One trend we children's writers have noticed is that nonfiction books are being written more like fiction, with story lines, funny sidebars, cartoons, etc. It would be interesting to know if this trend carried in with college textbooks.