What many undergraduates do not know — and what so many of their professors have been unable to tell them — is how valuable the most fundamental gift of the humanities will turn out to be. That gift is clear thinking, clear writing and a lifelong engagement with literature.
…from the New York Times, “The Decline and Fall of the English Major”
When I was guest lecturing for UVA’s MS Commerce Program last week, a number of students seemed mildly offended when I described how few Ivy-caliber university graduates I’ve met in my life that I didn’t think of as complete morons. Real sneers, one or two of them. The looks on their faces made sense, though. That’s a lot of money to spend on a piece of paper to have someone tell you that you might be a dumbass. But as my older brother always said: “if the truth hurts, say ouch.”
So why did I say this?
Because I read what people write. And I’ve met very few people who can write. And the only thing that bad writing connotes is “I don’t think.” And if my first impression of someone is “he doesn’t think,” well then…
It’s that simple. If you don’t know how to write, you don’t know how to think.
Even worse. If you don’t know how to write, you’ll never be able to perceive how others react to your thoughts, and that makes you the guy at the party everybody hates.
So what’s the solution? Study literature. Acquire that fundamental gift of the humanities that no one can put a price on. After all, nobody wants to go through life as an idiot. Or an accountant. Ugh.