In our rush to reinvigorate science and math in our nation’s schools, have we left the humanities in the dust? Peter Berkowitz thinks so. “No doubt science and math are vital,” he writes. “But all of the attention being paid to these disciplines obscures a more serious problem: the urgent need to reform liberal education.” According to UNESCO, he explains, America’s K-12 system spends more time—and money—on math and science than almost any other country surveyed, yet has little to show for it in terms of achievement. Berkowitz again: “[S]cience and math education reform begins with the reform of liberal education, of which it is a part.” Translation: We can’t just overhaul one or two subjects; we have to overhaul the entire system. It’s a system that ties together the rich content of reading, writing, history, and philosophy, alongside math and science, into a package that teaches, amongst other things, how “to think independently about what kind of life to live,” “to pass reasoned judgment on public policy,” and “[to] properly evaluate America’s place in the international order.” In other words, to make critically thinking global citizens, we need to teach them rich and varied content of all the disciplines. Well said.
“Opinion: Why Liberal Education Matters,” by Peter Berkowitz, Wall Street Journal, May 15, 2010