Realizing the importance of humanities education

I grew up in a school environment where it values math, and science, and devalues liberal arts. At the second year of high school, we have to choose between science and liberal arts as the major focus, in order to prepare for College Entrance Exam. In a school of 13 class groups for each year, we have 2 aiming for liberal arts, and the rest 11 aiming for science. Students who get lower scores in science exams will be assigned to the 2 liberal arts class groups, and the undertone message is that “they are not intelligent”. Somehow, I can always feel the discrimination towards the liberal arts class groups in my high school years. This is the poor reality in Chinese education. But we still have literature reading classes in science groups. I remember the teacher would repeatedly emphasize that the importance of her class, and that to learn literature reading is the foundation to get a good grade in math. I thought they were just struggling to get students’ attention at that time.

Then I read the article by Dan Edelstein about humanities education, and some other articles about how the training of arts empowers the creativity in students. I realized that it’s the trick of cognitive thinking training. I do agree that students will be exposed to cognitive processes more often in humanities than in science or engineering classes. As Dan Edelstein talked in his article that America takes ambition to create independently minded individuals, and encourage students to reach conclusions on their own. I now see clearly what deficiency does Chinese education have.