Category Archives: Mark Slouka

Money – what is it good for?

By: Molly Boylan

Is MONEY what it is for?

I think as someone who is an English major and has interacted with other English majors the answer would be: No. Money obviously isn’t the drawing force of the major. But from what I am reading in various articles, essays, and books, it was never about the money. Unless if you are looking at the funding being put into academics. It all gets shoveled into the majors of math, science, and engineering. Now, I’m not here to tear down the other professions that are out there. Personally, I think we all need to work together and use the benefits of each person and/or major.

However, just like everything else in society, if you follow where people spend their money you can tell what they care about. They are putting their energies in buying clothes, shoes, makeup, and plastic surgery. This shows that they care most about their appearance or what people think of them.

On a larger scale, American’s can tell what we care about most by where we invest our money as a country. If we look to the white house website, we can see that the Obama Administration is focusing on schooling that provides “on-the-job” skills. The President of the United States is telling us we need to do and get a degree in something that will make us as a country money.

Does this not seem backwards or maybe just a little off? I don’t know maybe I’m being naïve, but so are all the other English majors out there to think that we should go to school for things that make us happy and engage our minds, and helps us think critically so we can then define who we are. No! We must want to make money instead. (the thought makes me cringe)

Mark Slouka in his article “Dehumanized” puts it this way: “By downsizing what is most dangerous (and most essential) about our education, namely the  deep civic function of the arts and the humanities, we’re well on the way to producing a nation of employees, not citizens.” And it may be bold for him to say this, but it really seems that most of what I read this past week would agree with his statements.

The humanities are always having to fight for their worth. It must get tiring to love something that doesn’t seem of any worth to the community you belong to. For example, we can look at Patricia Cohen’s article in the New York Times, “In Tough Times, the Humanities Must Justify Their Worth”, “With additional painful cuts across the board a near certainty even as millions of federal stimulus dollars may be funneled to education, the humanities are under greater pressure than ever to justify their existence to administrators, policy makers, students and parents.”

I was getting tired of reading the same things over and over, but then I thought… imagine living this life over and over. And constantly battling these accusations that what you are doing isn’t nearly as important as what someone else is doing.

Christopher Freeburg in his essay “Teaching Literature and the Bitter Truth about Starbuck” suggests that in order for the humanities to attain more worth in the eyes of citizens, they have to make their fields and courses vocational. Meaning “giving our students an awareness of what they are doing, why they are doing it, and what it offers them beyond the loose rhetoric of critical thinking and writing skills” (Profession 2012 26). And personally, I think that is a great idea. We will just have to show them why that is true even in the humanities. We will prove that the skills learned in the humanities will provide the nation and human population something worth investing in.

Yes, it may sound like a lot to accomplish, but hey, we have degrees in the humanities – we can deal with whatever is thrown at us.

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Dehumanization? It’s not as far-fetched as you think…

By: Kasey Lynn

Mark Slouka’s article “Dehumanized: When math and science rule the school” discusses the fact our society is becoming dehumanized. To an extent he tends to come at society with his guns cocked and fully loaded ready to shoot at anyone that even attempts to disagree with him (it’s a bit much). But his main points really are not far off from what our society really is doing.

We live in a society that continues to push aside the importance of humanities. We have senators that want to pass legislation that rewards and helps students choose “job ready majors” because they are more responsible than the students that choose non-job ready majors. And how convenient that the humanities fall in the category of non-job ready majors?

The humanities is not a popular field. At least not in today’s society.

As Slouka says, “what is taught, at any given time, in any culture, is an expression of what that culture considers important.” In today’s society fixing the economy is a top priority, which causes many people to throw the humanities out the window. Because of this Slouka claims that our society is focused more on the math and sciences, that our society cares more about “producing employees, not citizens.” With that focus, we are at the risk of turning our humans into machines, living life by rote and completing the same tasks over and over again, if this occurs, than we are dehumanizing our society, and we would be doing it willingly.

I think that Slouka may be pushing it a bit far because he goes to extreme to basically claim that no one at all cares about the humanities. I do not feel that our society is that bad, but I do agree that it seems our society is more focused on producing employees rather than citizens. The lack of consideration and understanding of what the humanities can do for people hurts our society.

The humanities teach people have to think. It teaches people how to have open minds and how to interact with others. It teaches us how to grow as individuals and how to grow as a community. A society needs people that have these abilities and this knowledge. A society needs a balance of math, science, and the humanities, an overdose of just math and science will not produce a productive and effective society.

The humanities are important. They are necessary. They create people with thoughts and ideas and opinions. If ideas don’t change or aren’t created then nothing will change. Progress comes from inspiration and inspiration comes from dreams and ideas. But if our society continues to choose math and science over the humanities, then how can these ideas and dreams continue to exist?

Literature creates a dream world and so does philosophy, talking about literature and philosophy creates ideas. These are two main areas of the humanities that are vital to creating people not machines. We live in a world where people hide behind machines, we live a world where the internet and online social networks control the interaction of people, if we continue to allow the humanities to slip away, and soon there will be no reason to connect with others because no one will have their own personalities or thoughts.

Slouka is a bit drastic in his thinking and I may have let myself go off on a tangent. The issue is not a life or death situation. But it certainly is a problem. And who knows, if the problem is not fixed soon then there is a possibility that years down the road it could be life or death because eventually generations will not have new ideas and will not know how to coexist and then more issues will arise.

The bottom line, we cannot live in a world without the humanities because we cannot live in a world without people. We are humans, we cannot, or at least we should dehumanize ourselves.

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