Humanities, including arts, play a central responsibility in the history and the progress of democratic ideals. Philosophy and literature studies have massively changed the world, although parents and guardians across the Globe only show concern when their children are financially unstable compared to when they are literary deficient (Nussbaum 2).
Democracy relies significantly on critical thinking. According to Martha Nussbaum humanities is vital in building democracies based on the fact that it creates a platform for children to learn or acquire critical thinking skills. These skills are fundamental for intelligent resistance or rejection of blind traditions associated with particular authorities. Through humanities, children and other learners are in a position to acquire the ability to engage in independent thinking, which is the core of any successful democratic nation.
Unequal access to educational resources has limited the ability of many children to access humanity-oriented courses. Martha Nussbaum in her discussion argues that no education system across the Globe plays a major role in supporting democracy if it only supports a few individuals or individuals from wealthy families (Nussbaum 11). The distribution of wealth, characterized by a high level of inequalities in the access of various resources is one of the major factors that have negative effectively the way humanity courses are accessed and taught across the Globe. There is also a wide variation in the manner, in which quality education is accessed by people from different communities. In a country such as India, there is a massive disparity in the access of education between males and females i.e. literacy rates among males/men is approximately 65 percent compared to women, whose literacy levels stand at 50 percent (Nussbaum 11).
The influence of neo-liberalism, characterized by the existence of a free-market economy has also triggered or caused the under-cutting humanities. The implementation of the ‘Education for Profit’ model rather than, ‘Education for Democracy’ has led to a scenario where certain key social and cultural issues, are overlooked or neglected.
Many countries focus primarily on the provision of educational services, for purposes of profit-making, while overlooking, issues associated with social equality and distribution of wealth. Through the ‘Education for Profit’ model, key stakeholders, according to Martha Nussbaum do not prioritize factors or preconditions of a stable democratic nation but focus on the provision of educational services that facilitate scientific and technological development (Nussbaum 14).
Martha Nussbaum, in her discussion, offers a comprehensive overview of the manner in, which humanities have been overlooked and under-cut for an extensive period by modern society. In her perspective, the changes in educational policies and the influence of neo-liberalism, characterized by a free-market economy are some of the vital reasons that have reduced the role of humanities in various democratic nations. However, she goes further and mentions certain pedagogy approaches recommended by Socrates, indicating that humanities an essential dimension of education as it facilitates arguments, hence, triggering critical thinking (Nussbaum 48). Scholars such as Levins-Morales and G.Ochoa, emphasize the need to ensure that the modern generation should is provided with a base of knowledge, including other tools, which would enhance their abilities to re-interpret and re-evaluate their pasts so that that they are free to make essential development decisions. One could argue that Martha Nussbaum’s perspectives relate to the above arguments since she creates emphasis on the need to appreciate the relevance of humanities in various democratic activities.
Further Discussion Questions
- How can humanities be properly integrated into the modern educational frameworks, which have been massively affected by the emergence of advanced communication technologies?
Perhaps the integration of humanities in the modern education sector should begin by the establishment of policies, making humanity courses mandatory for students at all levels.
- What are the key challenges experienced by educators in modern society as they attempt to ensure that young learners are exposed to humanity courses?
There is a possibility that conflicts between parental/guardian demands and the need for teachers to ensure that young learners are exposed to humanity courses could be the major challenge educators experience.
Nussbaum, Martha Craven. Not for profit: Why democracy needs the humanities. Vol. 2. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2010.