Essay on Scientific education vs. literary education

We live in an age of science. The triumphs of science and technology have changed the mode of life beyond all recognition. Hence, we cannot imagine an education today in which science has no place. The arts classes are becoming more and more unpopular as the days pass by. But there is no accommodation for students who wish to read science.

Education formerly meant literary education, -the study of language and literature, of philosophy and history. Even in England, right up to the end of the 19th century, science had only a subordinate place in the curricula of studies. The study of science has now become indispensably necessary, for science had invaded our hearth and home. The question now is to what extent should science be allowed to displace literature and allied subjects?

Those who advocate the cause of literary studies and who want that literature should retain its pride of place, argue that literature broadens men’s outlook and gives a tone to men’s minds with noble ideas. Literature improves the taste and imparts culture. It refines the feelings and brings peace and rest to the human mind. Furthermore, it ensures knowledge of the uses of language and thus enables men to express themselves clearly and vigorously – qualities so necessary in a democratic age.

The advocates of scientific education are equally firm and assertive. They point to the need of having knowledge of science in an age in which scientific inventions and appliances play such a big part in human life. Sciences make men practical, observant and inquisitive. The study of science develops patience. Furthermore, be it noted, that science alone can improve and raise the standard of living.

The truth of the matter lies midway between the two extremes neither is exclusive of the other. Each has its own sphere of influence and importance. If we devote ourselves only to the study of literature, we run the risk of being impractical, imaginative, idealistic, and one-sided in judgment.

If we study science, exclusively we may similarly become dogmatic and angular. We may lose sight of the mystery of life, the something extra that eludes our grasp. The study of both alone may create a balanced personality, cultured, temperate, and alive to the meaning and purpose of life.

Therefore, in any system that seeks to fulfill the true function of education, there must be due provision made for the study of both literature and science. As a matter of fact, liberal education today means education both in literature and science. Education in pure science is as much conducive to a liberal outlook as that in literature.