JOHN BREDIN To the Editor: In case you’ve been on another planet for the past decade, the hottest buzzword in education circles today is “STEM” – an acronym for science, technology, engineering, and math. STEM has become a holy grail of sorts for certain educational administrators and politicians, who blindly worship before its altar, and are eliminating what once constituted a classical liberal arts education from time immemorial: literature, philosophy, and history.Now, don’t get me wrong, science and technology deserve a rightful place in our educational programs, shouldn’t be neglected, and, if anything, ought to be strengthened (strategically), with more funding for critical areas like medical research and green energy.But what’s to become of the humanities? Are we to simply let them go? These are the very subjects, after all, which add a spiritual richness to our lives, help us appreciate the world around us more, and deepen our moral sensibility. Matthew Arnold talked of the “sweetness and light” that comes from reading “the best that has been thought and written” – think Plato, Shakespeare, Austen, Dickens, and Proust – still a profound insight for those of us, myself included, who believe in teaching for a happier, kinder, more joyful world that still might be.Another great benefit of the humanities is that they strengthen democracy; in more ways than one. By encouraging open dialogue in literature classrooms, for example, we produce what the great literary theorist and educational philosopher Louise Rosenblatt believed is the ideal training ground for life in a democracy.Empathy is another quality, crucial to the functioning of a decent society, that we get more from reading novels and studying art than classes in I.T., business analytics, or entrepreneurship studies. However justifiable such narrower courses might be, they do nothing to develop human personality or deepen the heart and soul. Nor do they help you love your neighbor, build community, or care about the less fortunate of our planet.My wife Claudia and I recently featured two of the world’s most noted literary scholars, Harold Bloom and Stanley Fish, as guests on our nonprofit TV show “Public Voice Salon.” Both of these intellectual titans are deeply pessimistic that literature and the humanities can survive the current technocratic, market-based onslaught in education. Though their prescient warnings ought to be heeded, they also left us with a glimmer of hope I’d like to build on.Would it help to build a political movement around saving humanistic education? Why do YOU think the humanities matter? What novels, films, or plays have made you a better person or citizen? Why don’t they talk about this stuff on the other TV shows? As you ponder these questions, feel free to reach out in dialogue to me at [email protected] Let me know what you think so we can do a better job resisting the disastrous march away from humanistic learning, and toward a new dark age—call it a “digital dark age”—of the mind and soul.
He saved their games.In what was billed as the greatest 100 meter race ever, the lanky Jamaican did not disappoint. He pulled away from countryman and training partner Yohan Blake and American Justin Gatlin with a final few powerful strides, crossing the finish line as that rare sprint champion who didn’t need—let alone bother—to look at the scoreboard for confirmation of his win.But, oh, what a number glistened there: 9.63 seconds—an Olympic record.Asked what the win meant, Bolt wasn’t about to feign modesty. He won all three events he entered in Beijing four years ago—the 100, 200 and 4×100 relay—in world-record times.“It means,” he responded coolly, “I’m one step closer to becoming a legend.”“I’ve said it over the years that when it comes to the championships, this is what I do,” he added. “It’s all about business for me.”So much so that when a bottle flew out of the stands and landed a few lanes over, behind Blake just before the start of the race, neither man even took notice.“I came out there with one goal—get off to a good start and execute,” Bolt said. “Because the last 50 meters is where I shine.”Bolt knew going in that he wasn’t running against just the opponents in this race. Nor even to beat arguably the best field ever assembled for an Olympic finale. Nor to escape the long shadow of Carl Lewis, considered by many the greatest Olympian ever and, until Sunday night, the only man to successfully defend his 100-meter Olympic title.No, Bolt had to accomplish these things—and do them with enough substance and style to fill up the seats in Olympic Stadium and lure people back in front of their TV sets for another week. For all the interesting bits and pieces the events of last week generated, the truth is these games have been slow to gather momentum, sleepy one moment and electrifying the next. That’s no coincidence.Just as in Beijing, U.S. swimmer Michael Phelps was charged with the burden of entertaining the world during the first week and while he started slow, finishing fourth in his opening race, he finished fast. Had Bolt stumbled similarly after grabbing the baton, it’s anybody’s guess how steeply the nightly audience numbers would have fallen off.NBC claims an average of 34 million viewers each night, its best ratings since the 1996 Atlanta Games and highest for any non-U.S. Summer Olympics since the 1976 games in Montreal. Sure, the venues have been stars in their own right. It’s cool to watch beach volleyball being played in what’s normally the queen’s private gardens, or see archers fling arrows across the most hallowed pitch in cricket at Lord’s.But the stars on the track move the meter the most, and even the latest edition of the U.S. Dream Team has no illusion whose turf its occupying during the Olympics.Kobe Bryant & Co. caused a brief stir when they took their place alongside the 80,000 or so others packed into Olympic Stadium, but that was all. And when LeBron James was asked whether he’d gotten used to basketball for once not being the biggest game in town, he didn’t have to think long or hard.“Well, it’s not. This is,” James said, looking around at the full house. “This, and swimming. The whole world is going to watch this tonight. This is the biggest event of them all, right here.”And so it was, that too-good-to-be-true moment of sporting serendipity that turns out to be even better than billed. Impassive as ever, Bolt said no one should have been surprised.“This is what I do,” he said. “I enjoy putting on a show.”Good thing, too, since the 100 was just Bolt’s opening act. The finals for his favorite race, the 200, is Thursday night and the 4×100 is the last event on the track come Saturday night. Bolt will not only have to keep delivering results, he’ll have to find a way to entertain everybody in between. Judging by the way he threw the gauntlet at Blake, an earnest sort who’s become Bolt’s understudy, that won’t be a problem.“I’m not going to give this one to you,” Bolt called after the kid, who was already out of sight. “Maybe next year, or the year after that. But right now I need this to become a legend.“That’s my main event. That’s what I do,” he said finally. “I’m not going to let myself down.”Nor, it appears, anyone else in this wide Olympic world. by Jim LitkeAP Sports Columnist LONDON (AP)—It took him longer to get down on both knees and kiss the track than it did to glide over the most important 100 meters of it.Yet it’s everyone else with a stake in this overhyped and increasingly over-budget extravaganza—the International Olympic Committee, the London organizers, NBC, his sport and even his fellow competitors—who should be kissing the ground Usain Bolt walks on. STAR POWER—Jamaica’s Usain Bolt reacts to his win in the men’s 100-meter final during the athletics in the Olympic Stadium at the 2012 Summer Olympics, London, Aug. 5. (AP Photo/Anja Niedringhaus)
It’s never easy for staff at Mallard’s Source for sports to choose the Team of the Week recipient during Rep Soccer Playdown season.That’s because Nelson Youth Soccer fields so many good teams. However, following a close look at the winners heading off to the BC Soccer Provincial B Championships, Mallard’s staff settled on the Nelson U14 Girl’s Selects as the Team of the Week winner.The squad posted a 4-1 victory over Kootenay East from Cranbrook in the Kootenay Final to advance to the BC Soccer Provincial B Championships July 7-10 in Penticton.Ella Peloso held off the Kootenay East charge in goal while Farrah Marzicola, with a pair of goals and Abby Teasdale and Aube Jolicoeur scored for the Nelson-based cluub.Sydney Benson, Anna Bakas, Abby Teasdale, Aube Jolicoeur, Ivie Lock-Luttmer, Abby Jackson, Teigan Barnhart, Ruby Linnen, Nicola Anderson, Isabel Curiston. Front, Freya Holman, Phoenix Tailleur, Alexis Dyck, Semegn Atkinson, Ella Peloso, Farrah Marzicola and Addis Atkinson.Coaches are Clive Jackson and Darren Peloso.