Knowledge of humanities important for all professions

Good news is coming  for UK freshmen. Most of them will only have to take one humanities class. Thank goodness! We would hate for future UK students to actually have to — how should I say this? — think.

Now, I know I am ruffling feathers. “Emma,” you might say, “fewer humanities prerequisites will provide science students with the ability to specialize earlier. The humanities courses rarely score high in the categories of real world knowledge, applicability or usefulness.”

I understand the attractiveness of this line of thought. Let’s only take classes that are directly applicable to our career goals.

Emma Scott

But now, I’m scratching my head wondering why I took physics. If, as a doctor, I am ever asked to correctly calculate the torque of an object, I’ll be shocked. Then again, correctly identifying Homer won’t do me much good either. So why am I protesting the university’s dismissal of the humanities?

Humanities is useful to every student regardless of his or her major, even us science geeks.  Let’s see if this biology student can struggle to support this outlandish thesis.

In my science classes, I learn how to analyze, process and memorize facts, experimental results and formulas. In my humanities classes, I learn how to think, question and express more philosophical concepts.

What good is a doctor who does not understand what the word “life” means?

No, I don’t mean when your cells are functioning properly. I am talking about knowing the purpose of your years here on earth and learning how to improve the quality of life for others. Should we educate physicians in biology while neglecting the principles of community ownership and responsibility? What if they graduate unable to recognize injustice? Or love? Or pain? I’m trying to find in my science notes where I learned those concepts. I know it must be here somewhere.

Now, I’m not trying to waste my time (or yours) by arguing that UK should require freshmen to complete three more hours in the area of humanities. Uninterested students would still read SparkNotes online, hurriedly scribble down a half-thought-out essay and jump through the extra hoop as they struggle to keep their GPA intact.

Instead, I am challenging you to think about the purpose of education. Think about why you are here. Is this university simply job training?  A checklist to complete before earning a piece of paper?  Is this an environment where getting a 4.0 is the main purpose and learning is only a nasty side effect?

Personally, I am here to become an educated, thinking individual who understands life better than when I first walked into White Hall Classroom Building. But, I understand that challenging yourself to learn how to think is not a fun thing to do during your college years. It’s not really a great motivating factor for students to take an unrequired class.

Maybe the only hope for the humanities is to publicize the verbal reasoning portions of the MCAT, PCAT, GRE and LSAT.  Who cares about learning?