Image: Part of a graduation lineup.

Why liberal arts and the humanities are as important as engineering

We learned that though a degree made a big difference in the success of an entrepreneur, the field it was in and the school that it was from were not significant factors. YouTube chief executive Susan Wojcicki, for instance, majored in history and literature; Slack founder Stewart Butterfield in English; Airbnb founder Brian Chesky in the fine arts. And, in China, Alibaba chief executive Jack Ma has a bachelor’s in English. Steve Jobs…

Small child propped on her elbows, using laptop computer.

Kids Whose Parents Limit Screen Time Do Worse in College, New Study Shows

  “Parents normally set these rules to promote their children’s scholastic development and to make sure that they invest enough time in schoolwork. But that evidently can also backfire,” commented Hargittai. But why exactly? The study can’t say definitively, but I emailed Hargattai to see what hypotheses she might have. “One possibility would be that such parents also create other rules or different contexts for their children while they are home…

“for every cliché of a barista or bartender with a liberal arts degree, there were ten with a degree in business.”

This story offers evidence to challenge the stereotype that under employed humanities majors are stuck working in service jobs years after graduation. STEM jobs are indeed the most marketable, but a recent study found  that after five years, business, health professions, education and psychology make up far more of the underemployed graduates than English or foreign languages. If you believe the Burning Glass data, those four majors alone – business,…

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STEM Education Won’t Solve the World’s Problems

I love STEM. My SAT score for math was exactly the same as verbal. When I was in grad school, struggling with Sausserian semiotics and Beowulf in the original Old English, I taught myself C++, Turbo Pascal, and Java for fun. For some project I was coding I learned how to do 3D matrix transformations so that I could simulate light bouncing off of a solid surface. I had part-time…

Your Students Learn by Doing, Not by Listening

Today one of my students gave a final presentation in the form of a branching hypertext (akin to the “Choose Your Own Adventure” novels). On the opening screen, the voice of the professor welcomes the students to the course, announces a the major term project, and then immediately dismisses the class. During the Q&A afterwards, I noted that instructor sure didn’t waste much time on lectures, and asked whether the…