STEM relegates humanities to second-class status

The March 16 Times-Republican editorial praises the Marshalltown school district as a leader in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education, but neglects to mention other school subjects. Is the Marshalltown school district also a leader in history, civics, and literature (humanities) education? Does the Marshalltown school district, or any other school district, even want to be a leader in humanities education?

Unfortunately, the answer to the above questions is likely no. It pains me to make this admission, because during my sophomore year at Marshalltown High School I had the privilege of being in the class of the finest history teacher this country has ever produced, Mr. Brian Johnson. However, it is not the fault of phenomenal teachers like Mr. Johnson in the areas of history, civics, and literature that these subjects are now viewed as unimportant; instead, it is the fault of so-called education leaders who pander to a technology-worshiping public. With the alarming number of cell phone zombies and Facebook addicts in our midst, it is little wonder that STEM education is so widely promoted and adored at the expense of the humanities. The editorial mentions that Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds asked the children of a local class if they liked math, science, and technology. I would wager a large sum that she did not ask them if they liked history. The silence of our “leaders” with regard to the importance of the humanities is deafening. If humanities education is further de-emphasized and devalued, our society will morph into an army of scientists content to bow down at the altar of technology while blissfully unaware of the transgressions of its increasingly out of control government. But this is exactly what the powers that be, people like Reynolds, want. To them ignorance is strength; it is much easier for them to stay in power and maintain control when people do not know their rights or why this country even came into existence.

I am not anti-STEM education, but I am opposed to relegating other subjects to second-class status. I am in favor of a well-rounded education in which students know that in addition to the highly-esteemed STEM education, it is equally important to learn to think critically, write coherently, read classics of literature, gain extensive knowledge of how their government works, and learn the history of their country and that of the world.