ERIC Number: EJ1128632
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2017
The Crisis in the Humanities: A Self-Inflicted Wound?
Independent School, v76 n2 Win 2017
While the allure of Silicon Valley undoubtedly attracts students, the declining interest in the humanities at both the secondary and postsecondary levels is primarily a self-inflicted wound. Many educators often employ teaching methods that alienate students and make them feel as though the only reason for reading literature or studying history is to earn an A on dreaded analytical essays. Only by reexamining how and why educators teach the humanities will students reaffirm their commitment to courses that have long played an integral part in a liberal arts education. A brief turn to the history of literary criticism helps explain how we have arrived at the perceived crisis in the humanities. The type of analysis most commonly taught to middle and high school students emerged in the mid-20th century with the rise of New Criticism, an interpretative approach that focuses solely on textual evidence and excludes any exploration of authorial intention or historical context. Many decades later, the New Criticism movement continues to influence how literature is taught. In order to reinvigorate the study of literature, and the humanities in general, educators must acknowledge the shortcomings of the New Critics and recommit to the purpose of the liberal arts that the ancient Greeks proposed long ago: the cultivation of virtue, empathy, and character.
Descriptors: Humanities, Humanities Instruction, Educational Trends, Teaching Methods, Instructional Effectiveness, Learner Engagement, Educational History, Trend Analysis, Middle School Students, High School Students, Literary Criticism, Liberal Arts, Moral Values, Empathy, Values Education
National Association of Independent Schools. 1620 L Street NW Suite 1100, Washington, DC 20036. Tel: 800-793-6701; Tel: 202-973-9700; Fax: 202-973-9790; Web site: http://www.nais.org
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: Middle Schools; Secondary Education; Junior High Schools; High Schools
Authoring Institution: N/A
Grant or Contract Numbers: N/A