Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Japanese Barbarians Out to Crush Humanities!

The international education media has been getting very excited recently about what appeared to be an extraordinary act of cultural vandalism by the Japanese Ministry of Education.

It seems that the ministry has been behaving like the Taliban on a rampage through the Louvre and has ordered public universities to stop teaching the humanities and social sciences.

Noah Smith, an Assistant Professor of Finance at Stony Brook University SUNY and a freelance writer, wrote that public universities had been ordered to stop teaching social sciences, humanities and law, although apparently the "order" was non-binding.

Meanwhile Takamitsu Sawa announced in the Japan Times that the humanities were under attack and that someone on the ministry's panel of learned persons had said that students should study accounting software instead of Samuelson's Economics and translation instead of Shakespeare.

Eventually,  the Financial Times revealed that that the ministry had been misinterpreted and that the abolition of the humanities referred to a number of unneeded teacher training programs. This was supported by an authoritative comment by a former government official.

So it seems  that Samuelson and Shakespeare are safe from the rampage of utilitarian barbarians.

Perhaps Japanese universities can now adopt the best practices of Columbia and the University at Buffalo for the teaching of art.


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