A defence of English & the humanities.

I understand that when a person joins the army they do a lot of push ups, sit ups & other such exercises. Nobody ever won a battle doing press ups or protected their country through squats. Yet we understand the value of these exercises as a prerequisite of being a capable soldier. Exercise makes us strong, allowing us to then do a job effectively.

This is the case with English and other humanities subjects. Shakespeare is difficult and irrelevant? I call it challenging and sophisticated. Push ups make me physically stronger and Shakespeare makes me mentally stronger. Similarly just as different exercises work for different parts of the body different subjects work for different parts of the mind; English, Mathematics, Science, History, Geography and so forth.
Does it have to be Shakespeare? No. But there must be something filling that role. And stories are integral to us as human beings. Our earliest understanding of the world was past from generation to generation through stories. When we want to be persuasive, we tell stories (any good lawyer knows this).
So don’t give me Maths, Science, stock markets and nothing more. It’s reductionist. It’s populism. It fails to understand the purpose, value and method of education.

Stand up for English. Unless, of course, you’re also for skipping basic training for the military.


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