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EDUCATION

"Education is What Happens After You Have Forgotten What You Learned in School."       
                  ALBERT EINSTEIN

THE FUTURE OF EDUCATION

What is the purpose of an education?  Since the 19th century, the goal of American schooling has been to provide for the fullest possible development of each individual.  Or as John Dewey stated it, to serve as a foundation “for living morally, creatively, and productively in a democratic society.”  In his 1948 speech at Morehouse College, Martin Luther King expanded on this definition by emphasizing to his audience that, “Intelligence is not enough. Intelligence plus character is the goal of a true education.”

Today, we are hearing the opposite.  That a liberal education is irrelevant and that job-specific training is the new path forward; the only way to ensure that Americans survive in an age defined by technology and shaped by global competition.  

At the center of this view is a focus on STEM, an interdisciplinary curriculum based on the idea of educating students in four specific disciplines — science, technology, engineering and mathematics. In a future defined by science and technology, the importance of STEM education cannot be understated. STEM-related skills are not just a source of jobs, they are a source of jobs that pay very well.  But is an education grounded in STEM all that we need?

As Albert Einstein noted, “The sign of true intelligence is not knowledge but imagination.” Where science and technology increase our understanding of how the world works, the humanities – such as history, philosophy and the arts -- places this understanding in context, gives our knowledge purpose and direction so that its benefits are reaped not by the few but the many. 

Employers seem to agree.  When surveyed, a majority of business leaders stated that they would rather hire smart, passionate people, even if they didn’t have the exact skills their companies needed.  Another study on employment and found that, for workers to avoid the computerization of their jobs, they will have to acquire creative and social skills, both of which are hallmarks of the humanities.

But perhaps it was the late Steve Jobs who put it best: “It’s in Apple’s DNA that technology alone is not enough — that it’s technology married with liberal arts, married with the humanities, that yields us the result that makes our hearts sing.”