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Uncharted Territory

自分が読んで興味深く感じた英文記事を中心に取り上げる予定です

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(再掲)文学部の復権のために

 


It's in Apple's DNA that technology alone is not enough — it's technology married with liberal arts, married with the humanities, that yields us the result that makes our heart sing.

人文系への風当たりが強いのは何も日本だけではないようです。3年前にWSJの記事を紹介させてもらいました。後ほど再掲させてもらいます。

ただ、理系なら安泰かというとそうでもないようです。暗記ではなく想像力を育む教育をしなければいけいないという危機感は理系にもあるようで、先週のNatureが特集を組んでいました。暗記中心の教育をすぐに「日本的なもの」とする傾向があるようですが、どの国も苦労しているようです。

An education
The world can no longer afford to support learning systems in which only the most capable students can thrive.

15 July 2015
One of the subjects that people love to argue about, following closely behind the ‘correct’ way to raise children, is the best way to teach them. For many, personal experience and centuries of tradition make the answer self-evident: teachers and textbooks should lay out the content to be learned, students should study and drill until they have mastered that content, and tests should be given at strategic intervals to discover how well the students have done.

And yet, decades of research into the science of learning has shown that none of these techniques is particularly effective. In university-level science courses, for example, students can indeed get good marks by passively listening to their professor’s lectures and then cramming for the exams. But the resulting knowledge tends to fade very quickly, and may do nothing to displace misconceptions that students brought with them.


BUILDING THE 21ST CENTURY SCIENTIST
For generations, classes in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) have been built around a steady diet of lecture-based learning. Soft skills, such as creative problem solving, critical thinking and collaboration, are often given short shrift.
Now educators and education researchers are calling for change. They argue that a slew of ‘twenty-first-century skills’, which include creativity, persistence and motivation, can and should be taught and fostered through well-designed courses. Focusing on these skills enhances students’ abilities to master and retain knowledge, and many hope that it will help to curb the alarming rate at which students who start off in STEM abandon the subjects.
Nature in collaboration with Scientific American is taking a look at the promise and challenges of bringing STEM education in line with decades of education research.


(過去記事再掲)
大学を卒業してから15年以上になりますので、今の大学の状況は分かりませんが文学部の人気がないことは当時からありました。そんな中、IT時代、デジタル時代に文学部が生き延びるために必要なことを主張した寄稿記事がウォールストリートジャーナルにありました。まず、C.P.スノーの「二つの文化」を引き合いに出して、文系と理系のかい離を問題にしています。

OPINION October 24, 2012, 7:01 p.m. ET
How to Avoid a Bonfire of the Humanities
'English majors are exactly the people I'm looking for,' one successful Silicon-Valley entrepreneur recently told me.

By MICHAEL S. MALONE

A half-century ago in his famous "Two Cultures" speech, C.P. Snow defined the growing rift between the world of scientists (including, increasingly, the commercial world) and that of literary intellectuals (including, increasingly, the humanities). It's hard to imagine the sciences and the humanities ever having been united in common cause. But that day may come again soon.

Today, the "two cultures" not only rarely speak to one another, but also increasingly, as their languages and world views diverge, are unable to do so. They seem to interact only when science churns up in its wake some new technological phenomenon—personal computing, the Internet, bioengineering—that revolutionizes society and human interaction and forces the humanities to respond with a whole new set of theories and explanations.


少し前までは2年くらいかけて製品を作っていたのが、今はソフトウエアの時代となって世界中からプログラマーを集めれば2週間たらずでできてしまう。しかし、難しいところは投資家や提携先、もしくは求職者にその製品の重要さを伝えないといけない。しかも、その製品が存在しない段階でそれをしなければいけない。どうすればいいのか。

Santosh said, "Are you kidding? English majors are exactly the people I'm looking for." He explained: Twenty years ago, if you wanted to start a company, you spent a month or so figuring out the product you wanted to build, then devoted the next 10 or 12 months to developing the prototype, tooling up and getting into full production.

These days, he said, everything has been turned upside down. Most products now are virtual, such as iPhone apps. You don't build them so much as construct them from chunks of existing software code—and that work can be contracted out to hungry teams of programmers anywhere in the world, who can do it in a couple of weeks.

But to get to that point, he said, you must spend a year searching for that one undeveloped niche that you can capture. And you must also use that time to find angel or venture investment, establish strategic partners, convince talented people to take the risk and join your firm, explain your product to code writers and designers, and most of all, begin to market to prospective major customers. And you have to do all of that without an actual product.

"And how do you do that?" Santosh said. "You tell stories." Stories, he said, about your product and how it will be used that are so vivid that your potential stakeholders imagine it already exists and is already part of their daily lives. Almost anything you can imagine you can now build, said Santosh, so the battleground in business has shifted from engineering, which everybody can do, to storytelling, for which many fewer people have real talent. "That's why I want to meet your English majors," he said.


彼の答えは"You tell stories."だそうですね。エンジニアは誰でもできることだけど、物語を語ることに関してはto storytelling, for which many fewer people have real talentと誰でもできることではないと言います。まあ、それが英文学を専攻しているからできるというのは少し短絡的かもしれませんが(苦笑)

アップルがすごいのはこのstorytellingかもしれませんよね。電子部品はどこでも作れるが、一つの物語を編むことはHPやマイクロソフトでもなかなかできていないです。

この記事でもジョブズの以下のことばを引用していました。

It's in Apple's DNA that technology alone is not enough — it's technology married with liberal arts, married with the humanities, that yields us the result that makes our heart sing.


とはいえ、かつてのhumanitiesではなく21世紀のマルチメディアに対応したものでなくてはいけなくて、そのような変革を遂げないと大学の文学部は生き残ることができないのではと語っていました。

Could the humanities rebuild the shattered bridge between C.P. Snow's "two cultures" and find a place at the heart of the modern world's virtual institutions? We assume that this will be a century of technology. But if the competition in tech moves to this new battlefield, the edge will go to those institutions that can effectively employ imagination, metaphor, and most of all, storytelling. And not just creative writing, but every discipline in the humanities, from the classics to rhetoric to philosophy. Twenty-first-century storytelling: multimedia, mass customizable, portable and scalable, drawing upon the myths and archetypes of the ancient world, on ethics, and upon a deep understanding of human nature and even religious faith.

The demand is there, but the question is whether the traditional humanities can furnish the supply. If they can't or won't, they will continue to wither away. But surely there are risk-takers out there in those English and classics departments, ready to leap on this opportunity. They'd better hurry, because the other culture won't wait.


ソフトウエアのセールスピッチのために文学部が必要だという意見は何とも悲しい見方ではありますが、他の人に自分が関わっていることの重要性を伝えるスキルが必要になっているという指摘は重要なのかもしれません。自分も海外の部署との連絡のサポートをしていますが、技術的に困難だからという理由よりも、こちらの、もしくは相手側の問題をうまく理解できていなったためにプロジェクトが進まないということが多々ありますから、storytellingは一般社員レベルでも必要ではないかなと思っています。それって、俗に言うコミュニケーション能力なんじゃないのって言えば、このエッセイも陳腐なものになってしまいますね(苦笑)
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