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  1. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by Artemis@BC View Post
    I wonder if "the humanities" at the university level have become less important as critical thinking has become more widely taught at the high school level? I can't speak for other jurisdictions, but I know that creative and critical thinking processes are imbedded across all the curricula -- including in math and science courses as well as the more obvious humanities and fine arts -- in BC.
    "Incorporating into the curriculum" and actually teaching critical thinking effectively are two very different things.

    I don't think most college graduates have critical thinking skills, either .

    Quote Originally Posted by snoopy View Post
    All the techie nerds I know hate Gates. They think Microsoft sucks.
    All of the techie nerds I know think Apple is only for people who don't have a techie bone in their bodies. None of the techies I know own an Apple product or want to. To each his own.

    Quote Originally Posted by snoopy View Post
    Really, Jobs didn't even need a degree to do what he did.
    Yes, but Jobs also came along how long ago? If Steve Jobs were just starting out today (or Bill Gates, another college dropout), I doubt that either one would get very far without degrees. It's a different world.

    Very few people actually need a college degree to do what they do. The college degree is what gets them in the door to show people what they can do.

    Quote Originally Posted by cruisin View Post
    While history may be a humanities subject, I don't put it into the same category as other humanities. Yes, you can learn some creativity from successes and errors made in the past. But, history is somewhat static. It is what is was.
    The same could be said for religion or literature, no? It isn't the what, it's the why, an ever-evolving understanding. In terms of problem-solving and critical thinking, I think history is important.

    Quote Originally Posted by cruisin View Post
    Well, I will start out by saying that my son graduated with a double major - Political Science & Philosophy. Got into Law School and will graduate from Law School this May. So, in his case, humanities were key.
    But people are also being discouraged from going to law school now .
    "The secret to creativity is knowing how to hide your sources."-- Albert Einstein.

  2. #22

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    Quote Originally Posted by Artemis@BC View Post
    BUT. Playing devil's advocate here ... I wonder if "the humanities" at the university level have become less important as critical thinking has become more widely taught at the high school level? I can't speak for other jurisdictions, but I know that creative and critical thinking processes are imbedded across all the curricula -- including in math and science courses as well as the more obvious humanities and fine arts -- in BC. The level of discourse might not be as sophisticated or the academic standards as rigorous as at the university level, but the scope is broader, and benefits are obvious of getting young people into the critical thinking habit early.
    IME whatever's being taught as critical thinking in high schools isn't being brought into university.
    You should never write words with numbers. Unless you're seven. Or your name is Prince. - "Weird Al" Yankovic, "Word Crimes"

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    Was there really ever a time when getting a degree in philosophy was encouraged? "Honey, why go to dental school when you can get your degree in history!" While the percentages are down, are the actual whole numbers down? More students go to university these days--the students who go these days "because that's what you're supposed to do" probably wouldn't have been Socrates ubers back in the good ol days.

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    Quote Originally Posted by manhn View Post
    Was there really ever a time when getting a degree in philosophy was encouraged? "Honey, why go to dental school when you can get your degree in history!" While the percentages are down, are the actual whole numbers down? More students go to university these days--the students who go these days "because that's what you're supposed to do" probably wouldn't have been Socrates ubers back in the good ol days.
    Prior to the mid-80s, having a degree was in and of itself so unusual that even a philosophy degree had value. Since then, not so much.
    "The secret to creativity is knowing how to hide your sources."-- Albert Einstein.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Prancer View Post
    But people are also being discouraged from going to law school now .
    Because there are no jobs.

    Quote Originally Posted by Prancer View Post
    Prior to the mid-80s, having a degree was in and of itself so unusual that even a philosophy degree had value. Since then, not so much.
    Philosophy majors whose main focus was logic are still sought after in certain types of computer science and cryptography.
    Use Yah Blinkah!

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    Quote Originally Posted by GarrAarghHrumph View Post
    Philosophy majors whose main focus was logic are still sought after in certain types of computer science and cryptography.
    I think any degree can work out for students, but you have to have some direction. An English degree isn't a bad degree IF you plan your degree for a career and not just for completing credits.

    Unfortunately, that's not something a lot of students know to do.
    "The secret to creativity is knowing how to hide your sources."-- Albert Einstein.

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    Maybe colleges should invest more in career planning and require a course in career planning for freshmen or sophomores. Since the majority of students do see college as a way to get a better job, then maybe universities need to address that reality directly. Right now, it seems that the majority of students still think that a degree itself will land them a job.
    "If people are looking for guarantees, they should buy appliances at Sears and stay away from human relationships."~Prancer

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    Though it may not get you a job, philosophy degrees are one of the few degrees where I find the majority of graduates have impressive critical thinking skills. (I'm not sure I'd want to hire one though since they seem to never stop thinking.) Likewise for almost any *PhD* in almost any humanities subject ==> higher level impressive critical or creative thinking. But that, to me, ties the discipline factor back to it. I don't think it is the subject per se, but that many undergrad humanities degrees do not require a certain level of rigor required to build certain skills.
    What would Jenny do?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Prancer View Post
    The same could be said for religion or literature, no? It isn't the what, it's the why, an ever-evolving understanding. In terms of problem-solving and critical thinking, I think history is important.
    I believe history is very important, I just don't see it as being as "creative" as some other humanities. I don't see literature as being static. Writing evolves with every book written.



    But people are also being discouraged from going to law school now .
    As Gar said, for lack of jobs, or a glut of law school graduates. Not because the field is not necessary.

    Quote Originally Posted by modern_muslimah View Post
    Maybe colleges should invest more in career planning and require a course in career planning for freshmen or sophomores. Since the majority of students do see college as a way to get a better job, then maybe universities need to address that reality directly. Right now, it seems that the majority of students still think that a degree itself will land them a job.
    I agree, but, I think colleges assume that is done in high school. Foolish assumption.

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    Quote Originally Posted by modern_muslimah View Post
    Maybe colleges should invest more in career planning and require a course in career planning for freshmen or sophomores. Since the majority of students do see college as a way to get a better job, then maybe universities need to address that reality directly. Right now, it seems that the majority of students still think that a degree itself will land them a job.
    Adding a course--especially right now when everyone is looking for ways to reduce costs and time spent earning degrees--is a massive undertaking.

    Quote Originally Posted by cruisin View Post
    I believe history is very important, I just don't see it as being as "creative" as some other humanities. I don't see literature as being static. Writing evolves with every book written.
    But literature classes rarely cover works being written now; we cover works that were written throughout.....history.

    The works haven't changed. Our understanding of the works has.

    And so it is with history. The what hasn't changed, but our understanding of the why has. History may not be creative, but for critical thinking, problem solving, and innovation, history is as good a field of study as any and better than many.

    Quote Originally Posted by cruisin View Post
    As Gar said, for lack of jobs, or a glut of law school graduates. Not because the field is not necessary
    Well, yes, but lack of jobs is the reason there is handwringing over Humanties majors. The issue isn't importance, but viability.

    Quote Originally Posted by cruisin View Post
    I agree, but, I think colleges assume that is done in high school. Foolish assumption.
    Hmm, well, I think colleges are just behind the curve. Most degree requirements were developed in the days when a degree had value in and of itself. Colleges are just now beginning to feel pressure to adjust to the demands of the economy. And the pace of change is glacial in academia.
    "The secret to creativity is knowing how to hide your sources."-- Albert Einstein.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Prancer View Post
    "Incorporating into the curriculum" and actually teaching critical thinking effectively are two very different things.
    Sure. But that holds true for the university level too. So much relies on "teaching effectively," and university is not automatically better in that dept. than high school is. I don't know how typical my experiences are, but the level of teaching I received at high school was far superior to what I got at university.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Artemis@BC View Post
    Sure. But that holds true for the university level too.
    Which is why I said I don't think most college graduates have good critical thinking skills, either.

    I don't think most people in general, left to their own devices, have particularly good critical thinking skills; there is too much noise in our thinking and too little forced discipline.
    "The secret to creativity is knowing how to hide your sources."-- Albert Einstein.

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    I just have to say that although a liberal arts education doesn't seem that "useful," I think if you dedicate yourself to a field of study, then it can lead to opportunities.

    For example, my education helped get into law school, and I recently received a job offer for the summer at public interest organization. What really helped me in the interviewing process was my studies and knowledge of LGBT, race, and poverty issues that I wrote numerous papers in different classes in undergrad. If I couldn't talk to the organization about those topics, there is no way I would have gotten the offer.

    Maybe law school has more post-grads with varying backgrounds because there are English majors, philosophy majors, art majors, sociology majors, and of course a lot of political science majors. Of course there are people from outside the liberal arts (humanities and social sciences) like engineering majors.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Prancer View Post
    Prior to the mid-80s, having a degree was in and of itself so unusual that even a philosophy degree had value. Since then, not so much.
    But that doesn't mean the humanities was more valued then than they are now. Maybe people back then got a humanities degree because it was easier to get a good grade. Or based on my multiple viewings of Mona Lisa Smile starring Julia Roberts, women only went to college to snag themselves a husband and took the humanities because they were discouraged to tackle science or math.

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    Quote Originally Posted by manhn View Post
    But that doesn't mean the humanities was more valued then than they are now.
    Valued by whom? Employers? Students? Parents? Academics?

    As far as academics go, liberal arts have been seen as the entire purpose of a university education until the past few decades. Some still hold to that theory.

    Quote Originally Posted by manhn View Post
    Maybe people back then got a humanities degree because it was easier to get a good grade.
    Absolutely; just ask all the math and science majors who rack up those easy As in my English classes.

    I think Philosophy was one of the hardest courses I ever took. The logic classes were okay, but philosophic theory?

    We all aren't good at the same things.
    "The secret to creativity is knowing how to hide your sources."-- Albert Einstein.

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    Valued by whom? Employers? Students? Parents? Academics?
    Ask the author of the posted article, who thinks the declining percentage of people obtaining humanities degrees is so alarming.

    Absolutely; just ask all the math and science majors who rack up those easy As in my English classes.

    I think Philosophy was one of the hardest courses I ever took. The logic classes were okay, but philosophic theory?

    We all aren't good at the same things.
    I did not intend to post an opinion about the difficulty of the humanities or any discipline. I'm suggesting that not all people with humanities degrees, particularly those in the golden pre-80s, decided to obtain them for the love of the subject.

  17. #37
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    Quote Originally Posted by cruisin View Post
    While history may be a humanities subject, I don't put it into the same category as other humanities. Yes, you can learn some creativity from successes and errors made in the past. But, history is somewhat static. It is what is was.
    Actually, it isn't. History is the product of the winners or elites and there is much that is missing. Which certainly requires critical thinking to be able to "read between the lines" as it were; however, that type of deeper analysis is not really taught to undergrads. It's the province of grad school and those students are in the same boat as the English majors. As an undergrad degree, history isn't particularly useful. Neither is biology for that matter unless you're going to grad school and there are limited non research jobs there as well, not that there aren't 4 PhDs for every university job (or more).
    Those who never succeed themselves are always the first to tell you how.

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    ^^ That's fair.

    Quote Originally Posted by VIETgrlTerifa View Post
    Of course there are people from outside the liberal arts (humanities and social sciences) like engineering majors.
    That is my husband, mechanical engineering and law. He is a construction litigator. Any surprise he makes me crazy?

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    Quote Originally Posted by manhn View Post
    Ask the author of the posted article, who thinks the declining percentage of people obtaining humanities degrees is so alarming.
    I thought the author was reporting on the alarm of other people. And there are many people who are alarmed by what they see as the decline of education for education's sake, i.e., the traditional liberal arts curriculum.

    Quote Originally Posted by manhn View Post
    I'm suggesting that not all people with humanities degrees, particularly those in the golden pre-80s, decided to obtain them for the love of the subject.
    It never occurred to me that they did . I wouldn't think that of any other degree, either; plenty of people have majored in things they didn't particularly care for, and still do, and for the same reasons.

    I don't understand what you are getting at here.
    "The secret to creativity is knowing how to hide your sources."-- Albert Einstein.

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    In my own generation, the people who majored in humanities thirty years ago tend to be the most interesting now. I'm sorry, I know that sounds arrogant, but the people who were the most curious and interested in understanding the world around them, people and their cultures, the structures of society, the evolution of thought and the creative ways of describing the human experience -- in their fifties and sixties they are still reading, still arguing, still interesting. I meet enough engineers and "pure" businesspeople (who majored in business topics) to generalize wildly and say that by age 60, their intellectual horizons are narrower.

    But, as Prancer points out, mine were the days before the cost of that choice was twenty or thirty years of student debt. I came from a family where a scholarship was absolutely necessary to go to college, worked three jobs and still graduated with only $6K in debt. Even in 1977 dollars that's a far cry from the debt burden now.

    If I could prescribe a course for really smart kids, it would be something like what our friend and fellow poster Louis did. He combined English/humanities with math/statistics and has a fascinating job running research for a large financial company. That choice wasn't available to me, I simply lacked the talent to do that well at math and statistics. But even now, I hire kids who majored in political science, history, literature or economics. Not business and not, god help us, communications, which is an interesting career and a bullshit major.

    And most of them still can't write very well.
    "Youth and vigor is no match for age and deceit." -- Prancer

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