My Dog Pythagoras

The college majors offering the best return on investment are, according to CNBC and Michelle Fox, degrees majoring in STEM fields. For those of us more acquainted with a field of golden daffodils, STEM is an acronym for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics. Now I have to confess that I scored considerably higher on the math portion of the SATs than on the English, and, possibly due to a lifetime of allergies, I’m not especially fond of flowers (I like sedge). Even so, I graduated from college with a major in English, a minor in Comparative Literature, went on to graduate school studying Restoration Drama, and parlayed all this into a successful career as a communication specialist in a highly technical industry, and read good books on my lunch hour.

Beyond my own education and abilities, I owe much of my success to two things: the growth of computerization and my ability to think.

If I had concentrated on what are called STEM courses in college, I might have had an advantage in the computer world, but without the ability to think I might as well have been a Republican.

For graduate school I moved two-thirds of the way across the country and was barely surviving the loss of an ocean, subsisting on Cheerios, Kraft Dinner, and Vienna Sausages. As a student I got a part-time job in sleep research and began to learn about computers. My boss at the time made a comment that I have placed high in my words-to-live-by: he told me that working with computers required analytical skills and not simply technical skills; he considered poetry appreciation—the ability to explicate a poem—the type of skill that makes a good programmer.

So the CNBC article also highlights the five worst majors and they are all in the arts, things like Drama, Composition, Speech. Visual Arts, Performing Arts, etc.

I guess the key criterion for good is it makes money and the key criterion for not good is it develops the mind and the spirit of an individual. So when we quiver in the deep salt caves as civilization dissolves above us whether resulting from powerful weapons, heavy pollution, or the latest man-made plague, will we be scratching a representation of Euler’s Dilemma on the cave wall or will we be drawing a crude picture of a dog we once loved and who once loved us?

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