The significance of a humanities magnet school

“Course selection should be evened out a little bit because there are currently fewer options. It’s not fair to students who aren’t good at math and science. [Humanities] students are left behind.” -Jasmin Carey, senior

Constanza Hasselmann, Oracle Editor

Due to blatant societal apathy toward the humanities, programs nationwide lack the funding necessary to survive. The static of new technology or buzz surrounding a scientific discovery makes fresh historical analysis seem muted.


The term “humanities” encompasses academic disciplines from literature and history to the social sciences. It is the arch-nemesis of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) fields: the humanities are the flowery, explanatory antidote to the logical, clear-cut nature of STEM fields.


Disparities in funding for programs are evident in our daily lives. As a rising senior, you can choose between a combination of 12 higher level math and science classes for credit. Meanwhile, Advanced Placement courses in our English and history departments do not have the same luxury, with merely 25 percent the number of options. (Not accounting for the wider range of AP humanities courses because they are considered electives but do not fulfill those credits.)


Unfortunately, society’s disregard for the humanities manifests itself in our own school district with Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology. Although attending one of the top high schools in the country is an excellent opportunity, having a magnet school for the logical thinkers and not an artistic counterpart is the epitome of “brain discrimination.”


On the national level, humanities programs are constantly threatened. Part of President Trump’s plan to “drain the swamp” and reduce the size of the bureaucracy is to eliminate the National Endowment for the Humanities. Yes, our national debt is burgeoning, but inflation and the growth of our welfare state are to blame—and the humanities should not be short-changed.


It would be easy to blame the media for this problem, to criticize their priorities: after all, CNN devotes an entire section to tech. But the media is simply a reflection of our values and interests—a depiction of what people want to read. Therefore, if we want more coverage of feats in the classics, it is our responsibility to put those ideals in practice.


The humanities—and I can say this because I am a woman—are much like the modern woman: underpaid and insufficiently appreciated, but vital to a (re)productive society.


In our quasi-mechanical world, it makes sense to emphasize fields that will improve technology. But complex problems are not solved by just mathematicians; that is where historians, business leaders, and politicians work together to find interdisciplinary solutions.
Without these fields, we would not know Why the Caged Bird Sings. We would not be gifted with a range of melodic languages. And, most importantly, we would not be in touch with our true selves. The humanities allow us to comprehend what it means to be a homo sapien; to understand prominent figures of the past by sensing the power of their works; and they make us realize that we are very much connected, living a shared human experience. Investing in the humanities could be the answer to the current cacophony of our nation. By peering into the past and realizing the history we share, we can learn to harmonize our complementing voices.