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Sunday, March 3, 2013

A Question of Emphasis 03-04

Science and Math. These are the subjects our public schools have decided require emphasis. Most private schools have followed in lockstep. Science and math.

Few people today question the importance of studying science and math. They teach one to think connectedly, in patterns and sequences resulting in solutions. They are valuable studies. But science and math are not morevaluable than a study of history, the arts, or religion.

A horrifying ignorance has been carefully cultivated through our educational institutions, over the past 30 years. Arts have been systematically "phased out", forcing parents and students to seek extracurricular answers to their hunger for that wonder of human expression. Art that is offered is marginalized. It's "extra credit", "elective", ill-supported by schools desperately preparing students to achieve high test science and math.

Where will tomorrow's miraculous musicians come from, the artists, the dancers? As arts training in schools we pay for with taxes or tuition becomes ever scarcer, only well-to-do families will be able to support a private, specialized curriculum for their children. Poorer children (read "most of our children") will be left with what they hear on the radio and internet, what they see on TV, and will assume that these are the limits of art. There was no Bach, no Shakespeare. If you don't believe me, ask a few people under age twenty about classical composers or great playwrights. Ask how much you yourself learned about great music, art, theatre from your schooling.

Are we truly prepared to set aside as unimportant, our greatest cultural accomplishments, the heartbeat of humanity? We seem determined to do exactly that.

What of history? It's only the study of how we came to be as we are, and where we are headed. History teaches perspective. History tells the great tale of religion, of faith, of a slow and steady racial climb out of darkness and toward the light of wisdom and knowledge.

 A study of history provides a lasting sense of human accomplishment, and here we arrive at the great evil of our nation's selection of emphasis in curriculum.

If one did not know better, one might assume that our educational system was intentionally attempting to minimize man's sense of his own accomplishments, our exalted place in the scheme of things. Why would any government willfully support an educational system that required students to abandon or never experience creativity, faith or wisdom, a system grinding life down to scientific theorems and mathematical axioms? Why indeed, unless it was the bizarre intention of that system to have its students know only numbers, until the student, knowing only numbers, must believe he is a number, and only a number.

After all, what's easier to manipulate than a number?

Teach your children well, teach them math and science. But equally, teach them history, art and religion. Provide them a sense of heritage, of their own greatness, to balance the harsh "truths" of a purely physical and soulless universe.
 Steven Horwich 
     Connect The Thoughts 

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