Such findings suggest that the president should be worried not only about support for math and science, but also about how his country is advancing the study of the humanities.
The humanities, which include history, art, literature, and music, are a critical wellspring of America’s creative capital, and they are also an important source of wisdom for those who wish to nourish and maintain a free society.
The Mississippi newspaperman and progressive crusader Hodding Carter II said as much in addressing college students in 1955, and his words ring with even greater urgency today. Sputnik hadn’t yet left the launch pad when Mr. Carter offered his remarks, but he was already sensing a national preoccupation with science that threatened to obscure the virtues of the liberal arts.
Carter’s point wasn’t to offer a false choice between science and the humanities, but to remind his audience that an enlightened democratic society needs both. Without a deep grounding in the humanities and its insights into the individual spirit, said Carter, the Founding Fathers could not have created the Bill of Rights. “Its authors, though they may not have so described themselves, were in the liberal arts tradition,” he said.