Wednesday, September 14, 2016

STEAM

Quite often, it seems, some professor of literature or philosophy shows up on the pages of the New York Times to bewail the neglect of the liberal arts, or sometimes the arts generally. Wells Fargo, or somebody, was pressured into taking down some ads pushing STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) education. Education, ever a fashion industry, has been quick to ditch STEM for STEAM, the 'A' representing Art.

I'm not sure how many Art History majors there are in the US, but if it's more than 20, it's probably too many. I have similarly jaundiced views of many of the liberal and fine arts majors offered in American universities. We do need high school English and History teachers, it's true, and foreign language teachers too, but much of the rest is a waste.

Of course colleges should teach literature, art, history and philosophy, but we really don't need many majors in such subjects. A dozen or two universities could probably comfortably supply the nation.