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Published: 20-10-2019

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An Analysis of Mark Slouka's Argument on the Lack of Humanities in American Education

In “Dehumanized: When Math and Science Rule the School”, Mark Slouka addresses the lack of humanities in American education curriculum, in contrast to the overwhelming focus on math and science. For the educational method, this translates as an imbalanced approach to teaching students how to think creatively and authentically.

“…the issue nowadays is disequilibrium. Why is each Crisis in American Education cast as an economic threat and in no way a civic 1?” (37) Although Slouka surely utilizes a lot of rhetorical tactics all through his report to criticize the focus on math and science in American education, this may possibly be the most striking one. Why an education recovery automatically equals to an economy recovery? Why doesn’t the public see a progress in education as a progress in the student’s capability to think more creatively or to analyze troubles more critically?

Slouka suggests that we pay less consideration on educational crisis as a ‘civic threat’ simply because:

“we don’t have the language for it. Our concentrate is on the usual financial indicators. There are no corresponding “civic indicators,” no usually agreed-upon warning indicators of political vulnerability, even though the inability of more than two thirds of our college graduates to read a text and draw rational inferences could be noticed as the political equivalent of runaway inflation or soaring unemployment.” (37)

As Slouka stated, financial crises are quantifiable, whilst civic crises are usually not and as a result, there is an underwhelming concentrate on humanities in the education program. By ‘civic indicators’, Slouka refers to the signs that assist pointing out troubling troubles that could impose disastrous consequences on the human values of the citizens in the nation.

In Slouka’s sense, civic indicators could also refer to the degree of democracy in the economy. Slouka argues that “Political freedom, what ever the industry evangelists may possibly tell us, is not an automatic by-item of a expanding economy” (36) Through this claim, Slouka is trying to convey to us that a created economy does not automatically result in high level of political liberation. Hence, in order to solve this problem, the politicians should place a lot more significance on humanities in education and let the ‘human’ aspects of the students develop along with their quantitative expertise that could potentially drive financial output. Humanities can aid us obtain this middle-ground and enhance as effectively as liberate the student’s political standpoint due to the fact humanities, as opposed to math and science, teach us “not what to do but how to be.” (37) But are not there not sufficient warning indicators of civic crisis out there, not sufficient to motivate the politicians and the governmental board of education to begin gearing the country’s education program towards humanities?

Many instances in Dehumanized, Slouka points out concerning troubles due to the lack of humanities in schools. He mentions Brent Staples, from New York Times, who claims that “the American education technique is failing “to make the fluent writers essential by the new economy.” (34) The Education Commission of the States published a report saying that “state and nearby leaders are realizing that the arts and culture are crucial to economic development” and several states have even “developed initiatives that address the connections in between financial growth and the arts and the culture”. (36) Furthermore, the embarrassingly low voter turnout in the recent years can also serve as a sturdy ‘civic indicator’ of the diminishing knowledge or focus the younger generations placed on the policies and programs that are adopted by the government. As well a lot of members of society are ignorant to the significance of their involvement in the political arena. The lack of expertise stems from the lack of information received in the educational approach. It is in the area of the humanities that the individual gains an appreciation and understanding for their part as a citizen in a democracy.

Even with all these factors, the politicians nevertheless decided to turn a blind-eye on the significance of the humanities and continued on their quest to create economically-advantageous worker-bees. American politicians are obsessed with sustaining America’s position as the world financial leader. As a result, they would not quit pushing the education curriculum towards math and science, simply because they are the subjects that have the most clear prospective in expanding the economy.

“Ah, Singapore. You will hear a very good deal about Singapore if you listen to the chorus of concern more than American education. If only we could be more like Singapore. If only our education system could be as efficient as Singapore’s.” (35)

Slouka is annoyed by America’s unreasonable attitude in comparing its own education method to that of Singapore. Singapore’s education program is effectively-recognized for its heavy concentrate on math and science, in which Slouka views as “obsessive, exclusionary, altogether unhealthy.” (38) He utilizes a slightly mocking tone in the quoted paragraph above to imply that American should be focusing on improving its personal – in what he believes, broken – education system as an alternative of attempting to get ahead of the other people. Slouka is convinced that the explanation that the American education system overlooks the vital part of humanities in establishing the nation is not simply because of the shortage of civic indicators. However, even with a lot civic indicators, politicians are still a lot far more attracted to quantifiable measures and the false pride that comes with America triumphing over an additional country’s economy.

One would hope that the appreciation of the humanities and the corresponding civic indicators becomes a reality for more people. “The humanities, in short, are a excellent delivery mechanism for what we might get in touch with democratic values. There is no far better than I am conscious of.” (37) Slouka believes that those who can grasp the concept and comprehend the situation of the nation by paying consideration to the civic indicators and the humanities are men and women who are beginning to understand and truly understand the globe around them. If American individuals are to ever fulfill their dreams of a accurate democracy, then it is crucial to break away from the hypnotic grip this capitalist method has upon us.
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