In Not for Profit: Why Democracy Needs the Humanities, philosopher Martha Nussbaum writes:
“With the rush to profitability in the global market, values precious for the future of democracy, especially in an era of religious and economic anxiety, are in danger of getting lost. … World history and economic understanding must be humanistic and critical if they are to be at all useful in forming intelligent global citizens, and they must be taught alongside the study of religion and of philosophical theories of justice. Only then will they supply a useful foundation for the public debates that we must have if we are to cooperate in solving major human problems.”
Yes, Kevin McCann, education is about “finding out what you want to do in the world.” It’s also about learning to pursue those desires with thoughtfulness and integrity. As Nussbaum also writes, “Knowledge is not a guarantee of good … behavior, but ignorance is a virtual guarantee of bad behavior. In a world full of simple stereotypes, we will only preserve democratic values of debate and mutual respect if we try hard to understand the past and the present.”
Our students need jobs. But do the requirements of a good job—at any level—necessarily exclude deep study of history, foreign language and art?
What’s your take on the purpose of education?