Is majoring in the humanities a career killer? Not always, argues Jeff Minick. In Intellectual Takeout, the Virginia-based writer and teacher offered an anecdote of four siblings who have made the most of their philosophy degrees:
The oldest is a mother of seven, the manager of a busy household, and the organizer of a school fundraiser that doubled expected revenues.
Her three brothers are, in turn, an attorney, a sales person for a software company, and a web designer. All three are successful in their chosen fields. The attorney, who is not yet 35 years old, has founded five law offices across the state of North Carolina, is married, and is father to seven living children, six of whom are adopted. The second man is the father of four young children. In addition to his work, he and his wife own ten rental properties. The third man, age 24, is married and the father of two living children, operates a successful business with several employees, and coaches the men’s basketball team for his alma mater.
What is the secret to their success?
First, they attended Christendom College, a Catholic school offering courses designed to make the students think and reason. Moreover, majors in history, philosophy, theology, and economics read and discuss standard works in their field. If you wish a degree in English literature, you can count on reading Shakespeare, Dickens, Dostoevsky, and Flannery O’Connor. If you major in philosophy, you will shake hands with Plato, Aristotle, Aquinas, Nietzsche, and Camus.
Next, these young people wrote essays and papers throughout their time in school. Through instruction and much practice, they learned the art of effective writing. …
Finally, these same young people were pro-active in their search for employment. They evaluated their skills and interests, and looked for ways to bring those into play. Today they work hard, and with passion and intelligence. Because of their training and education, they mull over problems and difficulties, and then proceed to solve them with the tools they acquired studying the humanities.
Minick ends with a little advice of his own:
Students: if you wish to learn to think, to read with discernment, and to write well, then seek out schools and professors who will teach you history, literature, and philosophy, who will provide great books, who will make demands of you, who will challenge you, and who will in the end enhance your humanity.
Read the full piece at Intellectual Takeout.