Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Why anthropology needs to be taught in school (guest blog)

Recently there has been a trend in education towards emphasizing the STEM academic disciplines while excluding the legacy disciplines of the “Social Sciences”. Recent (and continuing) news* shows the folly of moving away from the social sciences- in particular the academic discipline of Anthropology.
Humans need to understand what it means to be Human- our evolutionary biology, our unique form of communication, and our cultural diversity.
At my former university, anthropology courses were not required for any curriculum of study except for sociology. And I know of few anthropology courses taught in high schools, and even then they’re taught as electives.
Only Anthropology enables us to understand humanity because it's holistic covering our biological, linguistic, and cultural diversity. Other academic disciplines specialize in some of these fields, but only anthropology enables us to understand how they are interrelated.
For example, a sociology colleague (Kathleen) and I would present a “race” and racism seminar at our local police academy. We made a perfect team, she being a “black” female while I was (and still am) a “white” male. Kathleen discussed two terms, “prejudice” and “discrimination” trying to help the cadets understand the differences. On the other hand, I tried to dispel their misconceptions about human biological diversity by using the ABO blood group. Kathleen and I both were (and still are) O+. I then asked the cadets for their blood type and easily found a “white” male cadet with a blood type different from ours. I would tell the cadets that his blood infused into my body would kill me, yet Kathleen’s blood would save my life in a transfusion. Finally, I would ask the cadets what is more important, “race”? sex? age? or blood type when it comes down to blood transfusions.

Daniel Cring
Anthropologist
Lafayette, Louisiana