La crisi degli studi umanistici

NEW YORK – Dal dibattito mondiale sul futuro dell'istruzione superiore sta emergendo una simmetria sorprendente. Da un lato, c'è la crescente preoccupazione che gli Stati Uniti e molti paesi europei non siano in grado di formare un numero sufficiente di laureati nei settori chiave dell'"economia della conoscenza" del XXI secolo, come l'ingegneria e l'informatica. Tale preoccupazione ha portato a restringere il concetto di istruzione fino a limitarlo esclusivamente all'acquisizione di competenze pratiche.

D'altra parte, in alcune aree dell'Asia si teme sempre più che i giovani che entrano nel mondo del lavoro con una robusta preparazione tecnica manchino, però, della capacità di "pensare fuori dagli schemi". Questo timore si sta traducendo nell'incipiente tendenza a espandere l'idea di istruzione fino a comprendere lo sviluppo della sensibilità e dell'immaginazione.

Entrambe le posizioni affondano le radici in preoccupazioni di natura economica. Negli Stati Uniti, dove la maggior parte degli studenti universitari si fa carico di almeno una parte del costo della propria formazione universitaria, crescono le pressioni politiche per offrire incentivi quali sconti sulle tasse scolastiche o condono dei prestiti a studenti di scienze, tecnologia, ingegneria o matematica (i cosiddetti settori STEM). In corso di discussione sono anche delle misure per tagliare i costi, tra cui la compressione dei tradizionali corsi quadriennali in tre anni, riducendo o eliminando del tutto materie opzionali "non pratiche", come la letteratura, la filosofia e le belle arti.

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