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Where’s the Humanity? The Case for Putting Language Arts Into STEM

Ed Surge – Jen Curtis

“It started with an underwhelming science fair—the type we’re all familiar with: students standing next to handmade posters, listlessly describing their projects, usually alone. While some of the projects were impressive, for onlooker Greg Brown, a former engineer, this just wasn’t the way real engineering worked. So he set about to create a more authentic experience, partnering with the Tech Museum of Innovation in San Jose to launch The Tech Challenge, a program that has served over 20,000 students since it launched thirty years ago. The Tech Challenge has come a long way, with close to 700 teams competing this year, and big-name sponsors including Dell, Intel and Cisco. During the annual April competition, student participants, as young as 4th graders, tackle real-world design challenges like how to build earthquake-proof structures and get arctic explorers safely across ice.”(more)

Why STEM Majors Need the Humanities

The Chronicle of Higher Education – Neal Koblitz

“When I was a freshman, half a century ago, I asked one of my professors — an eminent mathematician named Lars Ahlfors — for advice on my academic program. As a budding mathematician, I knew about a lot of math courses I should take and some physics courses as well. I asked what other courses in math and science I should include in my program. Ahlfors replied, “Don’t take more courses in those subjects. Once you get to graduate school, you’ll be studying nothing but mathematics. Now is your chance to become well-educated. Study literature, history, and foreign languages.” I sometimes repeat this story to my students and hope that the message is not drowned out by what they might be hearing from parents, friends, and the media.”(more)

STEM Education Is Vital–but Not at the Expense of the Humanities

The Scientific American – Editorial

“Promoting science and technology education to the exclusion of the humanities may seem like a good idea, but it is deeply misguided. Scientific American has always been an ardent supporter of teaching STEM: science, technology, engineering and mathematics. But studying the interaction of genes or engaging in a graduate-level project to develop software for self-driving cars should not edge out majoring in the classics or art history. The need to teach both music theory and string theory is a necessity for the U.S. economy to continue as the preeminent leader in technological innovation. The unparalleled dynamism of Silicon Valley and Hollywood requires intimate ties that unite what scientist and novelist C. P. Snow called the “two cultures” of the arts and sciences.”(more)

Arts & Humanities: Don’t Leave School Without Them

The Huffington Post – Christine Henseler

“Arts and Humanities: Don’t Leave School Without Them. This is not the advice most often heard among high school or college students. We all know not to leave school without a plan, a skill-set, a career path, but without the Arts and Humanities? Why not? On April 22nd, 2016, the NY6ThinkTank, an Andrew W. Mellon supported community comprised of educators and students of the NY6 Liberal Arts Consortium who wish to transform—rethink and rewrite—public conversations on the state of the Arts and Humanities, convened a workshop meant to answer that question.”(more)

Teaching the Greeks and Critical Thinking — Part 1: Why Students Need the Humanities Now More Than Ever

The Huffington Post – Frank Breslin

“Students today grow up in such a distracted and meaningless world that, unless schools give them some idea of where we have come from as a cultural tradition, schools themselves run the risk of becoming part of that meaninglessness. Not that students need necessarily accept that tradition, but they should at least know what it is, understand its ideals and values, its foundations and wellsprings that for over 25 centuries have shaped and nourished the Western mind.”(more)

A Rising Call to Promote STEM Education and Cut Liberal Arts Funding

The New York Times – Patricia Cohen

“Frustrated by soaring tuition costs, crushing student loan debt and a lack of skilled workers, particularly in science and technology, more and more states have adopted the idea of rewarding public colleges and universities for churning out students educated in fields seen as important to the economy…at least 15 states offer some type of bonus or premium for certain high ­demand degrees…What has incensed many educators is not so much the emphasis on work force development but the disdain for the humanities…“A lot of the feedback we get from employers is not only about the necessity of technical skills, but the soft skills as well — the ability to think creatively, to work in groups, things that you traditionally get in the liberal arts,” said Russ Deaton, the interim executive director of Tennessee’s Higher Education Commission. “It’s not as simple as STEM is valued and worthy of incentives and everything else is not.””(more)