The Assault on Humanities and the Arts

I heard Rita Dove a couple of nights ago. During the Q and A a college student came forward to ask about the job prospects for poets and writers like Ms Dove.

There was no good answer. Everywhere the emphasis is on preparing the future work force for jobs requiring skills in the math and science fields. Friends of ours who own their own business have jobs unfilled because there are not enough qualified people who have the specific skills to fill the posts.  Boomers are aging and will need more medical help that requires the medical expertise coming from the sciences. Everywhere we hear that we need more skilled workers.

To prove my point, right now I’m watching the Master’s Golf Tournament. There was an ad for Exxon Mobile. They were supporting scholarship in the math and science fields. Universities lure people with pictures of people with goggles holding up test tubes and wearing hard hats on construction sites.

While funding from the government to the humanities and the arts has long ago dried up to a trickle in the United States, other countries (especially China) are going the other direction. They understand that, in order for them to compete in the global marketplace, their people must understand the cultures, languages, and other nuances of a country.

Is there hope for those creative types in the arts? What future is there for those philosophers, history majors, artists, poets, writers, musicians, and other fields in the humanities? Most of those people have no choice. They follow their passion. They MUST do this. They love it. They would be miserable doing anything else.liberal_arts

I used to be advised by my teachers that all fields must know how to write. If you were a chemist, engineer, or math teacher, you should have a good familiarity with how to write a report or make a presentation. I don’t hear that as much any more.  Why not? Are employers willing to forgive that skill in trade for proficiency in other areas that bring them a better bottom line?

Will the pendulum swing toward the liberal arts again? I hope so. I know the world would be a better place when there is a cure for cancer or heart disease, but what is the point of a longer healthier life if the heart doesn’t sing from the beauty of the written word and the stories in music and painting put there by compassionate humans?