The Value of a Humanitarian Education

Laurel - Ames, Iowa
Entered on January 12, 2009

The Value of a Humanitarian Education

I believe that a person’s education has a huge impact in the way that they view the world and other people. With such a huge emphasis on math and science in the public school system, I feel that the study of literature, the ideas of people and their history is being overlooked.

In my junior year of high school, I took an anthropology class taught by Mr. Uetz, who was fascinated with American Indian culture and history. I went into this class knowing little more about American Indians than what I learned in elementary school and in my U.S. History class. This class taught me a more complete view of American Indian culture, their traditions and how different each tribe is from one another. Most importantly however, I had a deeper understanding that misunderstanding, fear, and ignorance were the roots of the problems that Europeans had with the American Indians. Leaving the class I felt I could grasp the complexity of the rich American Indian culture but still I felt like we had barely scratched the surface of such an intriguing culture and history. I felt that if each student in American received an education like the one I received in anthropology, instead of the watered down and edited version told by American history textbooks, it would open doors for the students and those whom they interact with. Maybe these students would grow to be understanding and interested in American Indian culture. Maybe if they saw a different way of life and thinking, they would also be interested in the many other cultures of the world.

Subjects such as anthropology, history and literature should be the core of the education system. Learning and understanding the ideas of others and their cultures and the history of humankind is the only way in which we can, as people, move forward. By eliminating ignorance of other people and cultures, I believe peace, freedom, and understanding will flourish and ignorance and prejudice will wither. By reading the works of writers and scholars, or by discovering what another group of people does and why, we become more whole as people. Not one of the famous authors taught in schools and universities have figured out life in its entirety. Instead, each person offers a piece and is willing to share it through writing, or song, or tradition. We, as people, need to take the opportunity to collect these pieces and learn from them and realize that we can add to the overall picture.