If you’ve checked out my Syllabus, you may have noticed that I haven’t covered the respective histories of math and science in this list. While I refer to this blog as learning “all the things,” I question the value of math and science history taught to those that are not majoring in math or science.
Allow me to expand on this: there is a clear connection between both of these topics and society, and that should not be devalued, especially in US society that tries to fight the scientific consensuses on climate and evolution. I also feel it is imperative that students of math or science study the histories of their respective fields, especially if they are to become teachers.
But while these subjects are important, I do not feel that the US public education system has nearly the same failures in its STEM education as it does in its humanities education. I was taught nothing about philosophy – an enormously useful skill that might have taught us all how to construct logical arguments and think more about the world around us. My geographical knowledge is embarrassingly poor. My knowledge of actual history is depressing. Mythology was an optional course in my high school, and comparative religion would never, ever have been broached (as I grew up just a little too close to the Bible belt).
In contrast, I know who Galileo, Newton, Darwin, and Pythagoras are, and I know about their respective theories. I personally do not feel I would benefit from revisiting these topics, so I have not included them in my personal study.
What do you think? Does this blog suffer for failing to include these topics? How important is it for a non-science or -math major to study the histories of these disciplines? How much does a student of humanities truly benefit from knowing that ancient Egyptians would cure headaches by tying a crocodile to their heads, or that people used to believe that the world was flat?
I welcome your comments below!