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You can't study science and technology without Walter

Innovation cannot thrive without education in science, technology and the humanities

Walter. Source: Wikimedia.
Walter. source: Wikimedia.

By the editors of the international edition of Scientific American, the article is published with the permission of Scientific American Israel and the Ort Israel Network 18.10.2016

The governor of the state of Kentucky, Matt Bevin, wants the state to subsidize the studies of electrical engineering students and not the studies of those who want to study subjects such as French literature. Bevin is not alone in his attempt to push higher education to encourage studies that guarantee students better chances of finding a job in the future. Senator Marco Rubio of Florida, who was previously a candidate for the presidency of the United States, put it bluntly in 2015 when he read For more welders and less philosophers.

Promoting scientific and technological education at the expense of the humanities may sound like a good idea, but it is fundamentally wrong. Scientific American has always been a passionate supporter of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education. But studying the interrelationships between genes or working on a master's degree project to develop software for driverless cars must not be pushed aside degrees in classical studies or art history.

The need to teach both music theory and string theory is necessary if the US economy aspires to continue to lead technological innovation in the world. The incomparable dynamism of Silicon Valley and Hollywood requires the existence of close ties between “Both cultures", as the scientist and writer called it S. F. Snow the arts and sciences.

Steve Jobs, who served for years as a technological hero, was not just a programmer nor just a hardware engineer. He stood out among his peers in the tech elite because he brought an artistic awareness to the field that made it possible to redesign cumbersome cell phones and desktop computers. and so He declared Jobs in 2010: "Apple's DNA states that technology alone is not enough. Only when the technology is connected toliberal sciences, and when they are connected to the humanities, we get a result that makes our hearts sing."

It is possible to argue about the connection between innovation and broad education in countries that have broken this connection. In the UK and Germany, university curricula emphasize skills studies aimed at particular professions or occupations. These two European pillars are ranked lower than the US and countries like Sweden and Israel in venture capital investment indices. (The schools in Sweden and Israel emphasize creativity and critical thinking.)

If Bevin and other proponents of a pure science and technology curriculum take a closer look at the issue, they will find that students who graduate with bachelor's degrees in both physics and poetry may, in fact, be exactly the job candidates employers are looking for today. In 2013 he published Association of Colleges and Universities in the USA The results of a survey he conducted among 318 employers who have 25 or more employees, which showed that almost all of them considered the ability to "think critically, communicate clearly and solve complicated problems" - precisely the topics on which education in the liberal sciences focuses - was more important than the explicit academic degree of the candidates.

What's more, these skills are precisely the skills required to bridge the gap between artistic design and the engineering sophistication essential to distinguishing high-end cars, clothes, or cell phones from the plethora of mundane competitors on the market. And in fact, this is also the type of specialization that is least likely to be threatened by computers, robots and other job thieves. "Think of America's huge entertainment industry, built around stories, songs, design and creativity," the commentator wrote. Farid Zakaria, the author of the book Thanks to the liberal education, BA column he wrote in the Washington Post. "All of this requires skills that are much broader than what a narrow science and technology curriculum offers."

Undergraduate students who are able to plan a schedule that combines science and technology courses with humanities courses may sometimes be richly rewarded. Mark Zuckerberg, one of the founders of Facebook, was a diligent student taking courses in Greek and Latin (and more recently Mandarin Chinese) in addition to his master's degree in the C++ programming language. Moreover, those government officials who call for a change in the educational priorities should know very well that the liberal sciences should not be pushed to the margins. Take for example Bevin's call to avoid French literature: Bevin himself has a personal debt to the humanities. He graduated from his college with a BA in East Asian Studies.

The way to encourage the hi-tech industry to move to Kentucky, or any other state, does not involve disrespecting Walter and Albert Camus. Instead, the goal must be building a first-rate state education system and paving a financial path that will allow students to reach it, even if they come from the humblest of backgrounds. The jobs will come as a result, whether in the government mechanisms or in the start-up companies of social networks.

3 תגובות

  1. Nostradamus
    How wrong you are. Without philosophy there is no science and without the humanities there is no society. The rest go out and study.

  2. Humanities is also a fertile ground for other "crazy people" such as David Yom, Popper, Darwin and many others, who promoted the culture as a whole. I completely agree that subjects other than science should also be taught, and I wouldn't want a company without Mozart, Victor Hugo, fashion designers, painters and sculptors, and website editors.
    Good night

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