Monday, 19 December 2011

Christmas comes early

I wasn't previously aware of Choose Humanities - a project of the New College of the Humanities, but I'm glad I've come across it now when I am in a festive mood and able to enjoy it properly. There are so many things to love:
  • The Universities tab lists posh universities but excludes not just the ex-polys, but even respectable old universities like Hull. After all, the humanities are all about the shameless recreation of hierarchies of status, aren't they?
  • The Research tab takes you to a press release telling you that '60% of the UK's leaders have humanities, social science or arts degrees'. UK Leaders, for this purpose, seem to be defined as Russell Group VCs, MPs and FTSE100 chief execs. Here we handily have deference to power to go with our recreation of status hierarchies.
  • The Blog is also a treasure. I know I'm in a weak position to criticise anyone's writing, but I don't believe I've ever managed anything quite as bad as this: argue that you should not be forced to believe what is taught but allowed to openly investigate why things such as faith and science are considered by some to be so-called ‘absolutes’, and, if necessary, to use critical thinking to non-violently, and with intellectual rigour, challenge and pick holes in arguments. The question is not to be taught what to think so much as how to think. This is what a good course in a humanities subject should do.
 So there you have the Grayling vision of the humanities in all its fullness: hierarchy, deference, cliche and the run-on sentence.

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