Sunday, August 11, 2013

English Majors: Roadblocks to STEM-Based Prosperity!

Some blog followers might be interested in a recent post “English Majors: Roadblocks to STEM-Based Prosperity!” [Hake (2013)]. The abstract reads:

ABSTRACT: According to the National Governors Association webpage “Science, Technology, Engineering, & Math (STEM) Education” at “STEM education for all students is linked to our nation's future prosperity . . . . . GOVERNORS ARE IN A UNIQUE POSITION TO ADVANCE COMPREHENSIVE STEM EDUCATION POLICY AGENDAS. . . . . . . . .” [My CAPS.]

Governors are also in a unique position to deter English Majors (EMs) from blocking STEM-Based Prosperity. Governors need to take immediate steps to (a) outlaw offerings of the English Major in state universities; and (b) counter pro-EM propaganda by English professors - for example, Matz's “Dear Garrison” at, a counter to Garrison Keillor’s EM-belittling jokes, and Edmundson’s “The Ideal English Major” at Edmundson went over the top with: “All students - and I mean all - ought to think seriously about majoring in English.”

The late John Atherton (1986) - see - in his brilliant “Confessions of an English Poetry Eater” at has relayed the tragic testimony of Joseph Priestly Galileo (JPG), whose potential as a STEM superstar was demolished by closet English major “B.” JPG’s transcript reads in part:

“It was in my 22nd year that the horrible incident occurred. I had spent an idle and debauched evening at the home of B. . . . . . Suddenly B remarked, ‘Joseph, have you ever seen a copy of T.H. Huxley's ‘On a piece of chalk?’ . . . . . . ‘You see, Joseph,’ he said, as the poison on the pages worked its way with me, 'how can it be so bad if it gives so much delight? You must visit me more often. Perhaps,' he lowered his voice and bent close to my ear, 'perhaps I may let you read a novel.' When I drew back in alarm, he understood that he had gone too far. . . . . .When [my father] heard that I had sniffed the sulphur of metaphor, [he] at once confined me to the laboratory with a copy of Principia Mathematica. But the damage had been done. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . If my story can be a warning to susceptible scientists, I will rest more easily. Remember, not a scintilla of metaphor can be allowed to touch the minds of our youth. We must stamp our ruthlessly any trace of the terrible traffic in tropes. Alliteration! The horror, the horror! Nurse, please, a couplet, for I am fading fast."

To access the complete 13 kB post please click on

Richard Hake, Emeritus Professor of Physics, Indiana University
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“As for me, my senses have been completely shattered by contemporary poetry. There is no known cure.”
- Joseph Priestly Galileo as quoted by John Atherton (1986)

REFERENCES [URL’s shortened by and accessed on 11 August 2013.]
Hake, R.R. 2013. “English Majors: Roadblocks to STEM-Based Prosperity!” online on the OPEN! AERA-L archives at Post of 11 Aug 2013 10:46:17-0400 to AERA-L and Net-Gold. The abstract and link to the complete post are being distributed to various discussion lists.

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