Saturday, March 29, 2014

“He will be a good employee for the job”

Iowa City parent Scott Samuelson has a great opinion piece in today’s Wall Street Journal on the real value of teaching the humanities. He cites research showing that undergraduate humanities majors earn more than those who major in professional or pre-professional fields, but argues:
Thinking of the value of the humanities predominately in terms of earnings and employment is to miss the point. America should strive to be a society of free people deeply engaged in “the pursuit of happiness,” not simply one of decently compensated and well-behaved employees.
Scott’s book, “The Deepest Human Life: An Introduction to Philosophy for Everyone,” comes out next week.

Meanwhile, our school district’s “Guidance” program had fourth- and sixth-graders learning job interview skills this week. In some classes, the kids played the parts of employer and job applicant and then evaluated the applicant’s interview skills. Was the applicant “clean, neat and well-groomed”? Did he have “Hands relaxed (not clenched)”? Did he “honor the end of the interview”? The interviewers then wrote overall comments, such as “He seems like a good employee.” Here’s an example:

(Click to enlarge.)

The Iowa Core, after all, has twenty-five pages of mandatory standards devoted to “employability skills.” See if you can find the Iowa Core sections devoted to philosophy or the arts.

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