Arts and Humanities

Why bother with the Arts and Humanities?

There are a number of calls for arts and humanities education emerging from the popular press and famous novellists. Un journaliste dans le pays des deux solitudes : A Challenge to the Social Sciences and Humanities by Graham Fraser of the Toronto Star is an interesting example because he cites a similar call by his father in the 50s. Does anything change?

See also an essay based on Atwood’s 2004 Kesterton Lecture at Carleton. She reviews her two “science fiction” novels, The Handmaid’s Tale and Oryx and Crake. At the end she concludes aon the importance of an arts education over technology training.

“An educational system that teaches us only about our tools – the How To of them, their creation, their maintenance – and not about their function as facilitators of our desires, is, in essence, no more than a school of toaster repair. You can be the best toaster repair person in the world, but you will cease to have a job if toast is no longer a desirable food item on the human breakfast menu. ‘The Arts’ – as we’ve come to term them – are not a frill. They are the heart of the matter, because they are about our hearts, and our technological inventiveness is generated by our emotions, not by our minds. A society without the arts would have broken its mirror and cut out its heart. It would no longer be what we now recognize as human.” (The Globe and Mail, Jan. 24, 2004, A19, Final paragraph, collumn E or 5)

My sense is that the HSSFC and SSHRC are mounting a deliberate campaign to enroll public persons to call for more investment in the arts and humanities (and social sciences.)