The art of a full education

Maywood coined the phrase “Math is everywhere”, following the national trend, preaching that math and science is most crucial for America’s future: that students must be proficient in these subjects in order to be successful. The public places emphasis on math and science test scores and these subjects often have the most support from federal funding.

But what of the other subjects taught in school? “Math is everywhere.” Is that to say that the humanities and the arts are not important? Take lunch as an example; Maywood would say that math could calculate the caloric density of a sandwich, the number of chips in a bag, or the volume of a Gatorade. But in that same instant, science could explain the chemical reaction in the taste buds, history could recount the sandwich’s origins, English could describe the flavors and textures as it is digested and the resulting satisfaction, and art could reflect on the organic design. The point exists: there is no situation where a single aspect of our education is so isolated. They all work together to explain fully the lunch experience.

So how come one subject is held superior to others? Too commonly, math and science are viewed as the most applicable subjects in life—the ones that will bring you the most success. Bankers and brokers crunching numbers, programmers designing supercomputers, and physicists calculating the mysteries of the universe demand the most respect in this technological age. But this is not the whole picture. It takes the innovation bred of English, history, and the arts to generate and refine novel ideas and to market those ideas. In a world where algorithms can explain just about anything, it is comforting and marketable to have products born of artistic vision that speak to us as humans.

The point is, there is no difference in importance between different subjects in school. If only half of the classes we took were important, why would we offer the other ones at all? So we can’t be so quick to assign importance to a subject. There is no possible indication of what each individual will need most in his or her lifetime; Each subject is just another slice of the same sandwich.