Market has spoken: so?

November 29, 2012

Can one be certain that someone who uses the phrase "interpersonal communication" knows what the humanities are about? ("Strategy for American humanities: blow them up and start again", Opinion, 8 November.)

The thrust of Toby Miller's diatribe against "Humanities One" in the US seems to be that the discipline is living in a cosy time warp and hence is becoming increasingly irrelevant to today's world and its painful dilemmas and crises.

His statistics seem to show that the humanities are losing ground in the student marketplace, but how much notice we should take of low popularity ratings among American 18- to 19-year-olds is far from clear.

The real issue is whether we should lead our students towards a deep imaginative involvement with the thinking and feeling of the past, or try to "get by" with a shallow, atemporal reckoning based on current notions. The former is harder but surely is the only way to cultivate understanding with roots, authenticity and stability.

Chris Ormell, The PER Group.

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