Interdisciplinearity LO22765

Roy Benford (
Wed, 29 Sep 1999 09:16:42 +0100

Brian wrote in LO22751

>I would have to agree with Tom that the humanities are generally seen as a
>waste of time by people who describe themselves as "practical" and
>"realistic." Those studying engineering, science, medicine, and so on are
>usually loathe to take electives in the humanities - because they do not
>see the immediate value to them. For my part, I have to admit that the
>technological side has certainly added to our material standard of living
>and our lifespan.

I would also agree with Tom on this issue. The traditional sciences,
particularly mathematics, are based upon pyramids of interlocking
knowledge. There seems to be the inherrent danger within this learning
environment of assuming that the entire world is based upon this type of
knowledge. These traditional sciences are based upon the underlying
assumption that humans can understand, predict and control the world
(universe). In the rush by students to biuld their knowledge pyramids, it
is a challenge for teachers to make the humanities meaningful.
Personally, I am aware of these issues from teaching business subjects to
technology students with a slant towards the humanities, i.e. management
is about the people issues rather than command and control. The initial
reaction, is that the students want to be told the answers. The challenge
is to get them to reflect on their own lives and utilise their personal
experiential data to help understand its relevance. For example, the
school playground has some interesting parallels with periods of corporate

>So the challenge to the list seems to be, what is the value of the
>humanities? I value them very highly, and consider them more important
>than the tech side...but it is an intuitive thing and my thoughts are not
>well formulated, so I could not explain it. If I had to make a start, I
>would say that without the humanities there is no soul, no "humanity," and
>that, in the long term, humanity needs the humanities far more than we
>realize. However, to explain WHY is another matter....

Perhaps, we need the humanities to encourage reflexivity in order to
create a world that has space for human beings.

Roy Benford
Fulmer, UK


"Roy Benford" <>

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