Friday, September 10, 2010

Against cute course names

When I shop for science and math cores, it always feels like I’m back in elementary school. I scan the course catalogue and ponder what my parents might say when I tell them I’m taking “Science of the Physical Universe 22: The Unity of Science: From the Big Bang to the Brontosaurus” or “Empirical and Mathematical Reasoning 14: Fat Chance.”

“Is that a real class?” I imagine they’d ask.

These ridiculously named classes are a manifestation of a general bias within the Core and General Education programs that all students who choose to concentrate in the humanities are both incapable of doing math and science and completely uninterested in those subjects. ...

Science and math concentrators often find humanities courses just as challenging or uninteresting, but at least they get treated like adults. “Western Ascendancy: The Mainsprings of Global Power from 1600 to the Present” sounds just as respectable and intellectually fulfilling as anything I could find in the history department. It isn’t called “The West: Why We’re Awesome” just to attract the attention [of] non-history buffs.
--Adrienne Lee, Harvard Crimson, on asymmetric attitudes

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