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Political Studies
POLS 250
Colin Farrelly

Main argument: - As the arts and humanities are everywhere downsized, there is a serious erosion of the very qualities that are essential to democracy itself - The arts and humanities teach children the critical thinking that is necessary for independent action and for intelligent resistance to the power of blind tradition and authority - Cultivation of our “inner eyes,” as students of art and literature learn to imagine the situations of others, a capacity essential for the success of democracy - Humanities and the arts contribute to young children at play, and continue this attitude into adulthood i.e. through role playing and theatre o Play is crucial; showing children how they can get along with each other without maintaining control o Play connects “experiences of vulnerability and surprise to curiosity and wonder, rather than anxiety.” - Democracies filled with citizens who lack empathy will inevitably breed more types of marginalization and stigmatization, thus exacerbating rather than solving problems - Nussbaum argues that growth does not invariably generate better quality of life; neglect and scorn for the arts and humanities puts the quality of all our lives, and the health of democracies, at risk - Nussbaum offers readers a “call to action” in the form of a plan that replaces an educational model that undercuts democracy with one that promotes it – builds a case that the very foundation of citizenship, and national success, rests on the humanities and arts – “we neglect them at our peril” Main Evidence Used: - Rabindranath Tagore (Indian Nobel Prize laureate in literature, and founder of an experimental school and university) - John Dewey - Jean Jacques Rousseau; Emile must learn to identify with common human predicaments, and see the world through the lens of many types of vulnerability, cultivating a rich imagination. Only then will he see people as real and equal. - Donald Winnicott - Ralph Ellison - Uses as an example the United States, which has “never had a pure growth-directed model of education. Some distinctive and by now traditional features of our system positively resist being cast in those terms. Unlike virtually every nation in the world, we have a liberal arts model of university education” - Contrast to India’s institutes of Technology i.e. the very model of learning that Tagore repudiated – in which the student sits passively at a desk while teachers and textbooks present material to be uncritically assimilated – is a ubiquitous reality in India’s government schools o Idea of active learning, which usually includes a large commitment to critical thinking and argument that traces its roots back to Socrates, has profoundly influenced American education Using evidence Nussbaum creates a “human development model” of education, arguing that it is indispensible for democracy and for cultivating a globally minded citizenry - Understanding interdependence, mutual dependence Chapter 1: The Silent Crisis - National education systems cutting liberal arts and humanities, instead focusing on science and technology for national economic profit - Humanities encourage people to understand one another empathetically, to develop critical thinking skills, become citizens of the world - Democracy needs citizens who can inform themselves critically about crucial issues - The arts are being cut away o i.e. Bush administration secretary of education/commission released a report that contained valuable criticism of unequal access to education; however with regards to subject matter, it concerned itself with perceived deficiencies in science, technology, and engineering – applied learning strategies that can quickly generate profit-making strategies - “We seem to be forgetting about the soul, about what it is for thought to open out of the soul and connect person to world in a rich, subtle, and complicated manner; about what it is to approach another person as a soul, rather than as a mere useful instrument or an obstacle to one’s own plans; about what it is to talk as someone who has a soul to someone else whom one sees as similarly deep and complex.” - Faculties of thought and imagination that make us human and make our relationships right human relationships, rather than relationships of mere use and manipulation - “We should have no objection to good scientific and technical education, and I shall not suggest that nations should stop trying to improve in this regard. My concern is that other abilities, equally crucial, are at risk of getting lost in the competitive flurry” – abilities crucial to the health of any democracy o When practiced at their best, moreover, these other disciplines are infused by what we might call the spirit of the humanities: by searching critical thought, daring imagination, empathetic understanding of human experiences of many different kinds, and understanding of the complexity of the world we live in o The national interest of any modern democracy requires a strong economy and a flourishing business culture; in turn, this economic interest, too, requires the humanities and the arts, in order to promote a climate of responsible and watchful stewardship and a culture of creative innovation Chapter 2: Education for Profit, Education for Democracy - What does it mean for a nation to advance? In one view it means to increase its gross national product per capita - “Never mind about distribution and social equality, never mind about the preconditions of stable democracy, never mind about he quality of race and gender relations, never mind about the improvement of other aspects of a human being’s quality of life that are not well linked to economic growth.” - “So producing economic growth does not mean producing democracy. Nor does it mean producing a healthy, engaged, educated population in which opportunities for a good life are available to all social classes. - Equal access not needed for growth model of education – i.e. India; USA has diverged from traditional growth model in this sense - “It is easier to treat people as objects to be manipulated if you have never learned any other way to see them. As Tagore said, aggressive nationalism needs to blunt the moral conscience, so it needs people who do not recognize the individual, who s
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