We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
Initially, the term studia humanitatis didn’t signify the pursuit of theological, metaphysical, or philosophical knowledge, or, as some contemporary commentators claim about the modern humanities, the cultivation or training of the soul as an end in itself. But they propounded a more modest notion: that the kinds of technical skills and knowledge that humanists taught—reading, writing, and speaking about ancient Latin and Greek texts—helped prepare students for study in the higher faculty, as well as for lives as active citizens.
It is that modest notion which eventually led to the devaluation of the studia humanitatis in the 17th and 18th centuries. According to Wellmon, scholars began to look down on the humanities because they didn’t prepare students to do anything in particular—but rather just imparted generalized knowledge intended to groom the elite...
I have long regarded the teaching of Greek and Latin as rather useless, not delivering on its claims of teaching precision of thought, greater understanding of English, and better access to the ancient texts. Latin and Greek are seldom taught now, and even Classics majors can avoid it in some schools. But the damage is already done. I have come around to thinking that they are worse than useless in two ways. First, by teaching dead languages rather than living ones which have variations, change, and dialects, they encourage entirely false notions of what a language is. They were held up as examples of purity that English should emulate, contributing to an enormous amount of nonsense about grammar and teaching anti-democratic ideals. Second, precisely because these were artificial and useless but had the prestige of elite usage, they removed all objections to the teaching of other useless crap, as noted in the OP.
The handful of Latin phrases used in law and Greek roots used in medicine can be learned in a week. It has been mostly just for show for centuries now, with the only saving grace that the actually intelligent people did share this knowledge across Europe, which allowed for a freer flow of idea. But the mock-intelligent also learned enough of it to lord it over others, which has been a great damage to education and democracy.
Assistant Village Idiot
The Humanities! The answer is simple; a lot of people simply aren't cut out for STEM classes and they needed something they could study and acquire a degree and the jobs that go with the degree. Almost the same reason we have black and hispanic studies. In most cases it is a colossal waste of four years. Those easy classes give the college students too much free time. You will never see an electrical engineering student out demonstrating for BLM or some other activism. He will be working too hard, studying and researching and if he slacks off at all he will require 5 years to complete his four year degree.
Dang, you people are harsh! If a school is training you to be able to do a job, that's a trade school. A liberal arts college focusing on the humanities teaches knowledge any well-rounded gentleman is expected to know. You don't necessarily have to know the differences between Bach and Beethoven, between Matisse and Monet, between Moliere and Voltaire, between Wittgenstein and Schopenhauer, but you should know they aren't outfielders for the St.Louis Cardinals. Same with a thousand different subjects - you should know at least a little about a lot so that you can at least pretend to keep up your end of the conversation with an intelligent person.
This is why I keep An Incomplete Education on my bookshelf and you should too.
Well, for one thing, the humanities completed their mission. The 18th and 19th centuries the humanities were home to the great archeological dig into the past writings. But that work is mostly done. Evidenced by the humanities abandoning great works for current, untested tomes of the current professors.
Secondly, at a time the humanities taught what was thought to be needed to be cultured, "the best that has been thought and said in the world". But what of this is presented to the modern STEAL student (Sociology, Theater, English, Art, Liberal arts)?
So if we consider "A man does not come to college to learn to earn a living; he comes to college to learn to live!" How does the modern humanities student learn to live? Is it a good life? Most seem very angry and resentful. PS, grad school is where they are suppose to learn how to earn a living. Quite convenient for the colleges, that.
The idea is, of course, that men are successful because they have gone to college. No idea was ever more absurd. No man is successful because he has managed to pass a certain number of courses and has received a sheepskin which tells the world in Latin, that neither the world nor the graduate can read, that he has successfully completed the work required. If the man is successful, it is because he has the qualities for success in him; the college "education" has merely, speaking in terms' of horticulture, forced those qualities and given him certain intellectual tools with which to work—tools which he could have got without going to college, but not nearly so quickly. So far as anything practical is concerned, a college is simply an intellectual hothouse. For four years the mind of the undergraduate is put "under glass," and a very warm and constant sunshine is poured down upon it. The result is, of course, that his mind blooms earlier than it would in the much cooler intellectual atmosphere of the business world.
A man learns more about business in the first six months after his graduation than he does in his whole four years of college. But—and here is the "practical" result of his college work—he learns far more in those six months than if he had not gone to college. He has been trained to learn, and that, to all intents and purposes, is all the training he has received. To say that he has been trained to think is to say essentially that he has been trained to learn, but remember that it is impossible to teach a man to think. The power to think must be inherently his. All that the teacher can do is help him learn to order his thoughts—such as they are.