Letter: Teaching humanities preserves our culture

Teaching humanities preserves our culture

To the editor:

As long as I have been alive, at least, history and English have been unpopular subjects. Most students are bored when lectured on who won what war or the hidden meanings of literary classics.

More importantly, not only are the humanities unpopular among students, but also among those who have made it in the world of business. Even our governments aren't fond of the subject and would rather invest in STEM subjects that produce useful things, like cures for diseases and tools that make our lives easier. Or maybe the latest Earth-killing car and that missile that will be used to kill people we don't know in a country we don't live in. Yes, useful things. Eventually, these useful things, whether it's a cure or a missile, will be used to make money, which is why the STEM subjects are put first.

But the humanities should be considered equal to, if not, more important than, their counterparts. History and English are more than just learning dates and SAT words. The humanities consist of and produce our culture. By that, I mean the culture of the world.

The subject gives us poems, novels, paintings, music — things that make up who we are as humans. When we have nothing of material value left, we are left with culture. If the world suffered economic depression, nuclear war, or sporadic natural disasters, we'd lose our cures, our Macbooks, our missiles, and our money. But we'd still have our unique abilities to make art, to write, to sing, to act, to read. We'd still have a culture.

History is there to remind us of what not to do, yes, but also to show us that the greatest writers and artists of the world, the ones who created culture, were investing in the humanities, though they didn't know it. When we lose everything, the humanities and what they cover would give us hope of maintaining civilization and our humanity. The humanities may not make you a better human, no, but they are what keep you human.

I have no doubt that this subject will be the last one standing. It will outlive, as it should, the STEM subjects. And if and when the world comes to a point where it is the last subject, that is when, I fear, that people will wake up and realize its importance.

The world needs more artists, more writers, more historians who show us what we can hold on to and how holding on to it unites us more than any political party or social media site ever could. The world needs humanities.

Shon Loftus, Great Barrington, The writer is a senior at Lenox Memorial Middle and High School.


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