“DO YOU BELIEVE?” CAREFUL.
BY: JAMES F. O’NEIL
As a teacher of humanities, I often posed a question to myself. “As a professor of literature and humanities, can I offer my life as an illustration of the benefits that accrue from humanistic studies?”
Does the study of literature and other “humanistic” subjects result in one’s becoming a more decent, liberal, tolerant, and civilized human being? No guarantees, was my answer.
I often thought of Dr. Joseph Goebbels (1897-1945), Minister of Propaganda for the Third Reich, the ideological head of the Nazi Party: at age 24, he earned his PhD in Romantic Drama [Humanities] from Heidelberg University.
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I saw this article by Nicholas Kristof in the New York Times and thought of your post. Thought I’d share. He calls it “Starving for wisdom” http://www.nytimes.com/2015/04/16/opinion/nicholas-kristof-starving-for-wisdom.html?_r=0
How delightful that you thought of me. What a great piece–and you are affected as I am affected: there is purpose to the study of the arts and the humanities. Thanks. Now, about what you did: your referral. For all my years as teacher, secondary and college-level. When I would find something neat, I wanted to share. I made copies for my colleagues, or sent it on to others whom I thought would be interested, even business papers (for I taught business majors in my technical writing program). One of the greatest disappointments I would have would be to get no response, or maybe a thank you. The latter I would accept. Nevertheless, I continued. I kept telling myself that I was a Jesus-figure, waiting for the return of the other nine whom I healed. EGO… Then I would get pissed and think of my handouts as the pearls of wisdom cast before the swine. Wow! I got over it, though, realizing I could not change the ways of others. Even today, I will send on a piece I might find–and pass it along. As you have done. Thank you. I am not a swine (though maybe a pig at time with chocolate). Keep casting your pearls to/upon me. Kindest regards. Jim O
How kind you are. I appreciate your words. This little blog-gy was something that I kept with me for all my teaching years. I still shared it with my students through my last class in 2012. I pray many of them made sense of it.
My undergraduate degree is in business, But if I had to do it over again I would’ve majored in something else, like humanities. That’s because a business degree doesn’t really give you much of a leg up. If you have a humanities degree your potential employers could see you as someone who has learned to think more broadly and creatively, and contribute in that way (it my help for the interviewie to point that out). But I sure would have enjoyed my college experience a lot more, and I think anyone would be a more fully developed human being by studying humanities.
Outstanding comment. I always questioned my worth as a “non-practical”