ERIC Number: EJ779109
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2007-Sep
Reference Count: N/A
What Is Happening to Humanities Education?
Pokrovskii, N. E.
Russian Education and Society, v49 n9 p22-30 Sep 2007
In the past fifteen years the volume of humanities education has not diminished. Nevertheless, there are indications that all is not well in humanities education. What is the root of the problem? Looking at the general situation, it is reasonable to say that "university education is shunting humanities discourse aside." This is a complex and multifaceted problem, caused first and foremost by the increasing focus in Russian (and Western) society on business values, commerce, and "useful knowledge," which almost automatically leads to the reduction or annihilation of humanities discourse and humanistic discourse. The dehumanization of society and the dehumanitarization of university education are closely interwoven. In the humanities areas of social, economic, engineering, and natural science education, the humanities are simply ignored by students in the classrooms, who are losing the ability to appreciate complex, meaningful humanities discourse. The most prevalent illusion that is any exposure to a source of humanities (a book, a work of fine art, a movie, etc.) will without fail ennoble the person exposed to it. Like any other source of knowledge, a text in the humanities requires perceptiveness and an inclination to seek diverse meaning, a readiness to make a moral choice and to expend moral energy ("the soul is obligated to labor"). To many people, especially those who have been exceptionally successful in their careers, the world seems to offer an infinite luxury of opportunities to consume; knowledge of the humanities becomes just one more form of prestigious consumption--a characteristic of consumerism in the case of humanities knowledge, which inevitably brings about a "glamorization" of the humanities. The retreat of humanism and humanities education poses the danger of the loss of effectiveness, the danger of the system's self-destruction. We should not invest resources in occasional lectures on themes of the humanities (glamorous "master classes") and isolated programs of a humanities orientation, on the assumption that it all adds up to the celebrated humanitarization. What should be done: maximally develop the internal humanities and humanistic potential of the social sciences and return to these basics. (Contains 4 notes.)
Descriptors: Social Sciences, Foreign Countries, Humanities, Humanities Instruction, Higher Education, Moral Values
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Opinion Papers
Education Level: Higher Education
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Russia