Science and Math. These are the subjects our public schools have decided require emphasis. Most private schools have followed their lead. From the President downward, the general battle cry is “science and math”.
Few people today would question the importance of studying science and math. They teach one to think connectedly, in patterns and sequences resulting in solutions. They are valuable studies. But science and math are not more valuable than a study of history, the arts, or religion.
Over the past 30 years, arts have been de-emphasized in many schools and school systems , forcing parents and students to seek extracurricular answers to their hunger for that wonder of human expression. Art that is offered is marginalized. Art is “extra credit”, “elective”, unable to be really supported by schools desperately preparing students to achieve high test scores…in science and math.
Where will tomorrow’s miraculous musicians come from, the artists, the dancers? As arts training in schools we pay for with taxes or tuition becomes ever scarcer, only well-to-do families will be able to support a private, specialized curriculum for their children. Poorer children (read “most of our children”) will be left with what they hear on the radio and internet, what they see on TV, and will assume that these are the limits of art. There was no Bach, no Shakespeare. If you don’t believe me, ask a few people under age twenty about classical composers or great playwrights. I think you’ll generally find their answer (or lack of an answer) alarming.
What of history, the study of how we came to be as we are, and where we are headed. History teaches perspective. History tells the great tale of religion, of faith, of a slow and steady racial climb out of darkness and toward the light of wisdom and knowledge. A study of history provides a lasting sense of human accomplishment, and here we arrive at the great error in our nation’s selection of emphasis in curriculum.
A life lived well is a life in balance. Art is the soul of human accomplishment and expression. History is our racial memory, the tale of what worked and did not work, forgotten at great risk to our very survival. Math and science could be, in this analogy, the racial mind. The human mind is a wonderful and powerful thing, but worthless and even destructive without an operating memory to provide perspective and wisdom. The human mind NEEDS history. And a mind without a soul in authority is a machine, not a human being. The human being NEEDS art and religion as much as the human body requires water and food.
Teach your children well, teach them math and science. But equally, teach them history, art and religion. Provide them a heritage, of their own greatness, to balance the harsh “truths” of the tale of science and mathematics, a purely physical and soulless universe. Human Beings are more than physical creatures.