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The Humanities are an important part of any Education Curriculum

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Voting Style: Open Point System: Select Winner
Started: 10/26/2014 Category: Society
Updated: 2 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 967 times Debate No: 63939
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (6)
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Standard debate rules apply; first round for acceptance, no new arguments in the final round, no semantics, no trolling, etc. I doubt any of that will be a problem, given Pfalcon's history of being an honorable opponent.

There are a couple of important definitions for this debate...

Humanities- subjects relating to the study of human culture; generally includes art, architecture, music, literature, the performing arts, and the history of each of those subjects.

Important- of great value

Education Cirriculum
- subjects included in a course of study at a school or university

I look forward to a great debate!
Good luck, Pfalcon :)


I look forward to a great debate Uchi!

I accept the definitions as they have been laid out, and agree to the rules as stated. I will attempt to provide sufficient warrant for the claim that The Humanities are (of great value) to any Education Curriculum. This should be an interesting debate.

Good luck! Bring your A-game; I sure will!
Debate Round No. 1


Thanks Pfalcon.
I certainly will bring my A-game ;)

I readily concede that certain elements of the humanities serve as useful tools in teaching younger students literacy and basic cultural awareness. I will be focusing on showing why the humanities are not important in secondary and college-level education, which composes a substantial amount of education curricula and is thus sufficient to negate the resolution. I think my opponent will agree that the purpose of education is to prepare students for their lives ahead of them; what exactly this would entail is up for debate-- I maintain that such preparation would be centered around developing students' critical thinking skills, the basis of widely-used occupational skills, and the general ability to compete in the global marketplace. My opponent is free to contest any of that, of course.

With that established, my case is built around how knowledge obtained from humanities courses in school rarely is of any use in the average adult's everyday life, whether on the job, in social events, or while voting. Obviously, such knowledge cannot be considered 'of great value' to education, which is geared towards providing practical benefits to students.

The notion that the study of the humanities has a very limited scope in terms of ensuring students financial security is relatively uncontroversial-- there are just not many high-demand occupations in which knowledge of the humanities can be of aid. Based on a survey of various occupations conducted by US News, which ranked the best jobs based on factors like industry growth, median salary, and employment rate, there are only 2 occupations which are even vaguely related to the humanities in the top fifty, with both of them being teaching jobs ( It is quite clear that in this respect, the humanities provide extremely minimal value to education. Since a student's occupation is bound to be a rather large part of their future, this observation makes it quite implausible that the humanities could still be considered important to education.

Another focus of education is teaching students *how* to learn and developing their critical thinking skills. Some would claim that studying the humanities is a valuable tool for fostering such ability, but that is easily countered by pointing out that virtually any subject can be used as a tool to teach such skills. Arguably, science and math are much a much better means for achieving that end, since they very directly apply the principles of research, critical analysis, and logical problem-solving. Cross-apply the observation that hey also have useful career applications, and it becomes obvious that they are preferable to the humanities.

Advocates of the liberal arts also claim that the humanities are necessary for the development of cultural awareness. However, this is rather circular logic; the humanities are defined as 'the study of culture', so it's no better than saying "you need to study the humanities so that you can know about the humanities!"-- we are given no reason in the first place for why the average adult needs to be culturally aware to the extent that high school and university humanities classes require. The amount of awareness needed to properly function in everyday life is naturally obtained simply by living in and actively participating in society; that is the whole idea of a culture-- it is a set of customs & traditions so deeply ingrained into a society that it can be learned simply by being a part of it. Having an in-depth knowledge of a culture's fine arts is unnecessary, and so are the humanities classes which attempt to provide such knowledge.

CONCLUSION: I have thoroughly shown that the humanities generally do not provide any value to students in preparing them for their future, and thus, given the purpose of education, the humanities are not important at all to the curricula of secondary schools and universities (which are included in "any education curriculum"). The resolution is negated.

I look forward to Pfalcon's opening arguments :D


Thanks for the debate, Uchi. It should be fun.


Well, since my opponent has deigned to concede lower education, it seems we both will be discussing secondary and post-secondary education. Originally, my arguments were going to span the entirety of education, but this makes things a little bit easier on me.

Cultural Awareness

As expected, Uchi has hit on one of my points, though he seems to be jumping the gun a little bit. The fact that one must study the humanities in order to know about the humanities seems blatantly obvious. The only one to learn about a topic is to study it. For example, if one wishes to have any in-depth knowledge about the economy, studying economics would serve them quite well. I do think Uchi has hit on something very important, though. Why is cultural awareness even important? For that matter, what is cultural awareness? “Cultural awareness” refers to the ability to understand and somewhat appreciate other cultures, beliefs, and traditions. Given the number of people of different backgrounds that one can and will meet over the course of a lifetime, the capacity to “walk in their shoes” seems to be a powerful skill, both in the workforce (particularly cross-cultural interactions) and in personal interactions.

Creative Expression

This one is more related to the music, art, theatre and the like. Creativity is considered by some to be a dying commodity. While there is some creative leeway in math and science, this is much more accessible within the humanities. The reason creative expression is of importance has less to do with school and more to do with problem solving. Odd as it might seem, problem-solving is not relegated to math and science. In fact, the problem-solving that we experience in day-to-day life is not the kind that is given by math and science. Rather, it is the kind that is given by the humanities. The reason I single out music, art, theatre and such is mainly because these are among the more challenging areas of the humanities. Those things that some people are naturally gifted in, but that most people must work at. It is in finding something to present or perform that a student is actively problem solving. There is no “right” answer nor any “proper” method. Each of these is found most often in math and science. This is analogous to day-to-day life, where we only know that we desire a certain result, but are unsure of the “proper” way to go about it.

Key Skills

While one could easily wonder why study the words of old dead men and women is worth anything, an astute observer would notice evidence of what I shall term “cross-training”. “Cross-training” is the process by which one takes what they have learned in one area and utilizes it elsewhere. Example: In literature classes at the secondary and post-secondary level, there something termed “close-reading”. This is when someone reads a passage, essay, book, etc., and produces from this reading an evidence-backed analysis of the author’s work, ranging from themes to style devices. Arguably, this very basic skill is of enormous import to the academic humanities. Evidence-backed assertions are the kind of thing websites like this promote. This is key to literature and history; the very nature of these fields is evidence finding and claim-supporting.

This relates to day-to-day expectations. For example, when buying a car, a salesperson might suggest a particular make and model, for some unknown reason. A savvy shopper will do a bit of research on their own. While one could gain research skills simply through repeated trial and area, history and literature classes are research-city, so to speak. That is to say, history and literature classes are among the more research heavy areas, at least immediately after high school. In such classes, students will engage in intensive research, which then would then translate into a penchant for not taking claims at face value 100% of the time. While not every student will be an obsessive fact-checker, the results are not as important as the goal. Which is to say, the curriculum is geared toward a particular goal, although that goal will not always be reached.

Critical thinking

Imagine a businessman, call him James. James wants to own his own business doing consultations for other companies. His experience has been with daycare services. James is used to offering guidance as relates to childcare guidelines, labor costs, supplies costs, curriculum, and such. This is a lucrative occupation; James manages to pay all of his bills, as well as save a few hundred dollars every month. One could say James is in a good spot. Until someone in a new industry approaches James for a consultation, and his regular clients no longer need him. Being faced with a new situation, requiring a new process for applying his skills, James is left at a disadvantage.

The above attempt at an analogy works on my opponents’ assumption that science and math are “a much better means for achieving that end”, in regards to critical thinking. The term “critical thinking”, though ambiguous, refers to a very specific mode of thought processing. The term “fluid intelligence” most closely matches what we mean when discussing critical thinking. “Fluid intelligence” is the “The deliberate but flexible control of attention to solve novel “on the spot” problems that cannot be performed by relying exclusively on previously learned habits, schemas, and scripts” [1]. That is a long and drawn out way of saying that a person is capable of thinking through a new problem without thinking entirely about previous experiences. Math and science are essentially schema-based. There are equations upon equations that one essentially plugs values into. In secondary and post-secondary schooling, experiments are minimal and mainly for the purposes of solidifying previously learned material, and new equations are rarely found. Math and science rely quite heavily on process of elimination. In traditional math and sciences classes (those one can expect in a high school or college curriculum), one can easily rely on a process of elimination. With quadratic equations, for example, one need only learn the various ways to get to the factors of x in order to actually to there. In the humanities, such black and white processes do not exist. Much like in life, one must gather together what information there is to have and make a decision based on that information, in the hopes that the information available is sufficient.

A direct definition of “Critical Thinking” is offered here [2]. “Critical thinking is the intellectually disciplined process of actively and skillfully conceptualizing, applying, analyzing, synthesizing, and/or evaluating information gathered from, or generated by, observation, experience, reflection, reasoning, or communication, as a guide to belief and action. In its exemplary form, it is based on universal intellectual values that transcend subject matter divisions: clarity, accuracy, precision, consistency, relevance, sound evidence, good reasons, depth, breadth, and fairness”. Here, we see terms that I have already mentioned or that are pieces of what I have already mentioned. Sound evidence, good reasons, clarity, relevance, depth, breadth and fairness are all values of critical thinking that one becomes adept at discerning through some level of education in the humanities. Whether one really needs three or four classes of it is up for debate, but that they should be included is less so.


Argument 1

  1. 1. The goal of education is to prepare students for life.

  2. 2. Life includes a level of cultural interaction.

  3. 3. Cultural interactions are made easier by a knowledge of cultural differences.

  4. 4. The humanities offer a knowledge of cultural differences.

  5. 5. Thus, the humanities make cultural interactions easier.

  6. 6. Hence, the humanities prepare students for life.

Argument 2

  1. 1. The goal of education is to prepare students for life.

  2. 2. Life entails novel experiences.

  3. 3. Novel experiences are key to education in the humanities.

  4. 4. Hence, the humanities offer training in novel experiences.

  5. 5. Since the humanities offer training in novel experiences, students are better prepared for novel experiences.

  6. 6. Thus, the humanities prepare students for life.

While I would never argue that humanities should be the only thing we are educated in, I have offered arguments to the effect that they should be included in any education curriculum, particularly because they offer things that are either not offered by math and science or because they do a better job than math or science at offering the same thing.

I look forward to your rebuttals Uchi.



Debate Round No. 2


UchihaMadara forfeited this round.


My opponent and I have decided to re-do this debate at a later time.



Thank you.
Debate Round No. 3


Thank you for understanding, Pfalcon.



Look forward to starting this over at a later time, Uchi.

Debate Round No. 4
6 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 6 records.
Posted by Pfalcon1318 2 years ago
We'll just do that. Problem solved. :)
Posted by UchihaMadara 2 years ago
Thanks for understanding, Pfalc.
I'd be fine re-doing it sometime next week.

And what of this debate?
Posted by Pfalcon1318 2 years ago
Nah, that's fune Uchi. We can just set up another debate with the same topic when you have more time. Perhaps a 1 or 2-day post time over your next break?
Posted by UchihaMadara 2 years ago
ugh... I hate how frequently I'm doing this recently, but....

I can't post this round, Pfalcon :/

I have it half-written out, but my parents are forcing me to go to bed, and I by the time I wake up, I will have forfeited. And given the severity of their tone right now, they will most-assuredly check up on me to make sure I'm not secretly staying up to finish....

I apologize for the inconvenience :(
Perhaps we can just pretend this was a 2 rounder.... or something.

Why do I seem to be the only one on the site who has to deal with this -_-
Posted by UchihaMadara 2 years ago
Posted by Pfalcon1318 2 years ago
I thought we were debating the resolution that "The Humanities are an important part of any Education curriculum", not that "The Humanities are an essential part of any education curriculum". These seem to be two distinct claims, with two very different BoPs.

If this is what you originally intended, I think I'll have to pass. If it weren't for the rule regarding semantics, I would just run with it, but common English usage raises the BoP much higher than I would be willing to take on.
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