Lately the media is brimming with commentary about the decline of the humanities and a loss of love for rigorous reading in our educational systems. Sure, it’s undeniable: the iPhone/Google-era is intruding upon our old reading habits. We now spend most of our time peering into screens, rather than flipping through books.
Even the late Steve Jobs leapt into the debate back in 2008, when predicting the Kindle’s demise:
“It doesn’t matter how good or bad the product is, the fact is that people don’t read anymore,” Jobs said. “Forty percent of the people in the U.S. read one book or less last year. The whole conception is flawed at the top because people don’t read anymore.”
Well, some would say Jobs’s comments were self-serving. And it’s 2013 and the Kindle is alive and well. Still, fewer students are majoring in the humanities, because they know, instinctively, that it will be much easier to find a job as a scientist or a business major. But where would we be without Shakespeare? Without Plato? Without Lu Xun? Without Samuel Beckett? Without Saul Bellow? Without critical thinking and quality writing?
There are no easy answers. The wireless world is here to stay. We here at n/n, however, still believe that nothing sharpens the mind, generates new ideas, and brings the world alive like sustained interaction with the written word.
Here are just a few voices in the ongoing debate:
The Humanist Vocation
The Crisis in the Humanities
A Case for the Humanities Not Made
Who Ruined the Humanities?
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