Outdated is a VHS. Outdated is popping the collar on your pastel polo shirt. Outdated is the term used to describe something that has no use, purpose or place in present time. Outdated is NOT the humanities. Outdated is my dad’s handlebar mustache, not the study of British Literature or Greek mythology.
To say the humanities are outdated is to say that from this point forward Romeo and Juliet is an unimportant part of literature. To say the humanities are outdated is to say that the art of writing is useless and thus reading is in a way irrelevant to us all. The humanities are not useless, irrelevant, or outdated. The humanities are a part of our everyday routine and a part of what allows us to express ourselves.
It is important to understand the past if you’re going to succeed in the future. Machiavelli is dead, but his writings are very much alive and should stay that way. Ancient teachings and philosophy are like fossils. We need to understand where we came from and what our past looked like, in order to see where we are headed.
There are those who are creative and not calculated. Artists not architects. And poets not pre-med. There are careers that allow you to be whimsical not weighed down by paperwork and risky not rigid. For those who hate the “man” or want to avoid crunching numbers in their cubicle, there are the humanities. Math and science are not for everyone. Business and law only appeal to some. But the humanities are broad, fluid, and flexible. The humanities are inclusive and accepting. Nothing is based off a chemical reaction or an equation. Things are left up to interpretation and imagination, as opposed to integers and independent variables.
The notion that the humanities do not help students find work is untrue. What this statement is really saying is that humanities do not help students find six figure jobs. The world we live in today is hyper-focused on money. No longer is the focus on doing what we love, but it is on doing what will make us the most money. That is the reason people say major in what will get you a job, but minor in what you love. But money aside, the humanities allow for expression above all. Passionate expression that can only be read about in books or seen on stage. Studying the humanities allows for a release of uniqueness.
I struggle with this in my own life. To me, communications is the study of how we communicate. It is not a science, even though some universities deem it as one, but it is the study of how we verbally and non-verbally communicate. I study people’s emotions and what motivates them to consume media. There are no formulas, equations, functions or reactions. There are theories and ideas about how things are done and why they happen this way. That is why I consider my major to be one of the humanities. Using my own definition, I am a major and a minor of the humanities. Yes, I plan on getting a job after graduation. Yes, I plan on using what I’ve learned in my undergraduate years to help me acquire said job. I am not an expert with HTML, I cannot tell you what thermodynamics are or even what temperature the surface of the sun is. I’m not a mechanical engineer, a mathematician or a meteorologist. I will have a job once I graduate with a salary that is substantially less than my counterparts who are aspiring doctors and engineers, but nonetheless I will be successful.
Just because the world is headed in a technological direction doesn’t mean we should eliminate the studies that have gotten us to where we are today. Languages, literatures, art, music, philosophy and religion make up the humanities. Each one playing an important role in the way we all experience life. Imagine a world without music, without the study of religion, literature and language. An education without the humanities would be a closed off one. Without learning the history of other cultures, the languages of other nations, and the art and music from around the world, we would live in a sheltered society. Every student should take a humanities course. They should embrace the humanities and use nor only a mathematical perspective, but a humanitarian perspective when solving a problem. While we all don’t have to be a part of the humanities, we all should be aware of the power within this area of study. We are all aware that flip phones are outdated, and should be aware that the humanities are not.