Tonight We Are Meeting Term Paper

Pages: 6 (1724 words)  ·  Style: MLA  ·  Bibliography Sources: 1  ·  File: .docx  ·  Topic: Literature

Tonight we are meeting to discuss why your child or children in this community in general are studying the humanities, or what can be distinguished as art, literature, philosophy, classical studies, history, religious studies, and history of science. In fact, you are here because you are an intellectual being who gives thought to education and to the needs of children. That makes you human and differentiates you from all other animals. At risk of sounding obvious, humans distinguish themselves because they produce, participate in or encourage the humanities.

Appreciation of the humanities stems back to the earliest humans. Among the earliest pieces of prehistoric sculpture is from 30,0000-25,000 BCE. The woman, who had exaggerated female parts, is believed to be a fertility symbol perhaps carried by a male hunter/gatherer as a reminder of his mate back home. Many here have heard of or seen the paintings on the caves in France from 15,000 to 13,000 BCE. I need not go into too much depth regarding the humanities in Ancient Greece and Rome, since you have studied such classics. The classics, as you can see, are on the list of the study of humanities and are essential aspects of the study of the development of humankind. This is where education first began.

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In pre-historic times, people struggled to survive against natural forces, animals, and other humans. One of the most essential ways of accomplishing this was to pass down from one generation to the next the knowledge that was acquired through culture and education. The earliest education consisted of sharing information about hunting and gathering food, providing shelter, making weapons and tools, learning language, and acquiring the values, behavior, and religious rites or practices of a given culture. Parents and respected individuals taught children the skills and roles needed to survive as adults. These lessons became the moral codes that governed behavior and eventually governed all of society. They helped humans form societies rather than be small groups of nonaffiliated individuals. Through such societies, there can be a continued growth of knowledge and prosperity.

Term Paper on Tonight We Are Meeting to Discuss Why Assignment

Formalized education began in the Ancient Civilizations. Studia humanitatis or the study of humanities that began in the Middle Ages included all those educational disciplines outside of theology and natural science. As Europeans started to view themselves as a single ethnic group with a common origin, the recovery of Latin and Greek classical literature became a concern for all the medieval centers of learning. Studia humanitatis consisted of five major disciplines drawn from the classical educational curriculum, grammar (including history and literary studies), logic, rhetoric, geometry, arithmetic, astronomy, and music. These became known as the artes liberales, or "liberal arts," or the skills and knowledge necessary for a human being to be truly free.

The study of the humanities today is just as pertinent as it was in the earliest time as a means of human survival. It must be argued today that the humanities are indispensable to everyone in a modern, democratic, and technologically dominated society. Mathematics and science are naturally essential to the continuance of society. However, these forms of learning are remembering or repeating what is heard. The thought processes are primarily rote in nature.

The humanities further the brain's functioning through associative learning or seeing a flag and associating it with a country; through interpretive learning or reading a poem and determining what the author was trying to say; and, most important, combining with the repeating learning to make effective decisions by applying what is learned to a specific need. The humanities are mostly used for association and interpretation. In life we think and feel and act with them. We interpret a poem and associate it with something in our lives. We listen to an early piece of literature, read a sonnet or discuss history and recall lessons of the past and how they can be applied to the future. We learn how to interpret what we have learned, analyze it, evaluate it and use it to see how it relates to present-day social and cultural factors, such as religion, race, gender, politics and class structure. We learn about early philosophers and religions to see how the norms and values impact today's political and religious structures.

A scientist, a musician, an author, and a connoisseur of the arts, Albert Einstein offers one of the best understandings of the purpose of the humanities.

It is not enough to teach a man a specialty. Through it he may become a kind of useful machine, but not a harmoniously developed personality. It is essential that the student acquire an understanding of and a lively feeling for values. He must acquire a vivid sense of the beautiful and of the morally good

He must learn to understand the motives of human beings, their illusions and their sufferings, in order to acquire a proper relationship to individual fellow men and to the community...This is what I have in mind when I recommend the "humanities" as important, not just dry specialized knowledge in the fields of history and philosophy. Overemphasis on the competitive system and premature specialization on the ground of immediate usefulness kill the spirit on which all cultural life depends, specialized knowledge included.

The humanities provide students with a foundation of languages, symbols and signs with which they can commonly think, emote, voice their thoughts, and behave. Humanistic study, then, can be said to provide the cognitive, thought pattern and attitudinal contexts with which a person confronts the world. Medicine, law, business, and the sciences now operate in environments that go far beyond the specific skills and concepts of the basics of curriculum. This is not surprising considering the global, highly competitive flat world created by electronic communication. If such considerations do not make the case for the humanistic studies in schools, it is difficult to consider what would.

One of the areas that is studied under the humanities are war memorials and commemoration, which is not a subject area that people would readily consider. However, it combines a number of different areas that fall under the humanities umbrella: art, literature, architecture, symbols and history, in addition to societal norms and values.

Referring back to the different types of learning, studying the memorials can also be associative, interpretive and applicative. A war memorial can be associated with the historical event, the people involved, the importance of this war as it relates to the country involved and how it relates to present-day events. For example, how does the WWII memorial symbolism relate to the current war in Iraq? Students can then take the information regarding the memorial and interpret what it meant at the time it was erected or what it means today? Finally, they can take the information gained from this exercise and apply it to a present-day decision, such as the feasibility of commemorating those who served in Iraq and other Middle East wars.

Martha C. Nussbaum, a professor of law and ethics at the University of Chicago, argues that the humanities are essential to the betterment of human development. She lists ten criteria for human intellectual need, which the humanities support, or central human functional capabilities: 1. Life. Having the opportunity to live a normal length of life or dying prematurely, or before one's life is so reduced as to be not worth living; 2.Bodily Health. Being able to have good health, adequately nourished and adequate shelter;

3. Bodily Integrity. Having the capability of moving freely from location to location, feeling secure against violent assault, and having opportunities for sexual and reproduction choices; 4. Senses, Imagination, and Thought. Being able, as a human, to sense, imagine, think, and reason through adequate education, including literacy and basic mathematical and scientific training. Using imagination and thought along with experience and one's personal choice of such areas as religion, literature, and music. Also, having the ability to use freedom of expression with respect to both political and artistic speech and religious exercise. 5. Emotions. Having attachments to things and people outside ourselves to love, to grieve, to experience longing, gratitude, and justified anger. 6. Practical Reason. Allowing ourselves to form a conception of the good and to engage in critical reflection about life's planning of one's life. 7. Affiliation.

Living live with and showing concern for others and having the capability for both justice and friendship. Not discriminating based on any criteria. 8. Other Species. Being able to live with concern for and in relation to animals, plants, and the world of nature. 9. Play. Being able to laugh and enjoy recreational activities; and 10. Control over one's Environment. Participating effectively in political choices and participating in political protections of free speech and association. Having meaningful employment and relationships with other workers. Such human needs as these are not possible without having the input and insights gained from the humanities.

Lastly, close your eyes and imagine a world that I will describe without the areas that were studied this year in the humanities class. I am going under… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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