ERIC Number: ED270150
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1982
Reference Count: 0
The Faculty of Dissent: An Administrative Perspective on the Humanities.
Watson, Rollin J.
Since the rise of science and technology in the latter part of the last century, teachers in the humanities have experienced extreme pressure to justify the place of the humanities in a progressive, scientifically oriented culture. Critics have termed humanists variously as elitist, because they concern themselves with moral priorities rather than with epistemological or political ones; backward-looking, since history is at the core of the humanities; withdrawn from society, since humanists do not produce results with immediate social consequences; and scientifically suspect, since the humanities use intuition and judgment as tools of inquiry. In their efforts to answer the criticism and defend their place in higher education, humanities faculty have made a number of individual and collective mistakes. They have sought, with questionable success, to emulate scientific paradigms and methodologies. Then, working even harder to make their suspect methodologies respectable, they have removed anything resembling fun from the educational process. They have attempted to answer criticism about the lack of relevance of the humanities to the vocational orientation of modern majors by defending their disciplines as if they were "eternal verities"; by making excessive claims for the humanities as if they could provide conclusive answers; by making inappropriate attempts to "vocationalize" the humanities; and by flooding the curriculum with Black Studies, Women's Studies, Indian Studies, etc., which in spite of many well-planned and well-taught courses, did not last and brought down the standards which the humanities were so anxious to maintain. Submerged in the wave of practicalism that has characterized higher education for the past decade, the humanities are indeed in disarray. Administrators can help take the stress off the humanists by placing primary emphasis on the validity of their teaching; by reaffirming the quintessential value of the humanities in higher education; and by celebrating the "faculty of dissent" which provides a necessary balance for the prevailing myth of objective consciousness. (AYC)
Publication Type: Opinion Papers; Information Analyses
Education Level: N/A
Audience: Administrators; Practitioners
Authoring Institution: N/A