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August 07, 2017


While I agree with you that many classics are best appreciated later in life, I don't see that as a reason to defer (or eliminate) an education in the humanities. (As an aside, I suspect teenagers might appreciate "The Diary of Anne Frank" more than people my age.) You are right about the critical thinking (b.s. detection) aspects of a liberal arts education _done right_. That feeds into the idea of an enlightened voter, one who can see through the arguments of politicians on both sides of an issue. Since college students will be voters by the time they graduate, I'd feel better if they had their b.s. detectors tuned by then.
A study of history (and maybe poli-sci) is also particularly important. My current superannuated self can look at contemporary insanity and put it in the context of history I experienced (threat of nuclear war, with the unintentionally humorous duck-and-cover drills; race and anti-war riots; Watergate; ...). My 18 year old self relied more on having read about the second world war, the US Civil War, assorted plagues etc. to keep a sense of perspective.
Unfortunately, as in all disciplines, the "done right" part is not a given. I enjoyed most of my lit classes, but one stinker in particular could have been enough to turn me off to humanities had it been my first. Still, better the occasional time-waster than a gaggle of engineers with no humanities background, busily at work ... designing SkyNet.

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