Stop ‘streamlining’ students

UWI St Augustine campus Principal Prof Brian Copeland.  - CHOLAI
UWI St Augustine campus Principal Prof Brian Copeland. - CHOLAI

THERE should be an end to streamlining students into sciences, businesses and modern studies in secondary school. This streamlining prohibits students from experiencing a well-rounded education.

This was the call made by principal of the University of the West Indies, St Augustine, Prof  Brian Copeland on Monday at the opening ceremony of Littcon 2020: the Literature of TT 1980-2020.

“A stronger infusion in humanities must be a hallmark in our national education systems from early childhood to tertiary to have a well-rounded education. For that reason, we have to curtail streamlining students in secondary school,” Copeland said.

For four days, the Humanities Department of UWI will celebrate 40 years of TT’s literature by highlighting work produced between 1980 and 2020, with the goal being to expose children to more local books.

In the era of web 2.0 where user-generated content can be monetised, the work of artists is in demand.

Writers, graphic artists, musicians, composers, dancers, animators, actors, and more are sought after to create works such as cartoons, web comics, blog writing, podcasts, meme and YouTube channels.

Globally there is a reduction in the number of students enrolled in the humanities. Copeland said students are dissuaded from studying the humanities because there is a perception that studying sciences or business would lead to a more lucrative career than the arts.

There is a norm in many American university programmes where students experience a wide range of subjects including humanities, though Copeland noted the US had a large drop in humanities enrolment.

Studying the humanities in some form leads to inspiration, Copeland said. All of the aspects of literary arts, leads to better technology and helps the likelihood of a “good life.”

“I am an engineer who was shaped by my father – a masman…Science and technology and the humanities are all instrumental to who I am today.” There is little differentiation between the sciences and the arts, he said.

Electrical engineer Claude Shannon, Copeland said, was inspired by 19th-century philosopher George Boole to create a mathematically systemic method for the design of digital logic circuits.

The science fiction writers, like philosophers of centuries past, saw no distinction between the writing and sciences, he said.


"Stop ‘streamlining’ students"

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