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The Vision of the Humanities for the Young


by Robert Coles — 1984

The humanities ought to offer young people in school a means of fitting various pieces of knowledge into a larger view of things--to draw upon a Latin phrase: sub specie aeternitatis. The humanities have to do with perspective—the long haul of time; and they have to do also with values, with a sense of what ought be as well as what is. The humanities begin with language—the distinctive attribute of human beings. We are the ones who become self-conscious, through words; who begin to ask questions as well as respond to reflexes; who gaze and wonder, then put into talk what crosses our minds. With language comes distance, a capacity to draw back and render an account of what is and has been taking place: history.


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This article originally appeared as NSSE Yearbook Vol 83, No. 2.


Cite This Article as: Teachers College Record Volume 85 Number 6, 1984, p. 31-38
http://www.tcrecord.org ID Number: 19182, Date Accessed: 5/29/2017 1:44:24 AM

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About the Author
  • Robert Coles
    Harvard University
    ROBERT COLES is a Professor of Psychiatry and Medical Humanities at Harvard University.
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