In chapter five of Moran’s Interdisciplinarity, he references a lecture given by C.P Snow entitled “The Two Culture and the Scientific Revolution.” He discusses how Snow argues that “the British education system exacerbated the situation by forcing pupils to specialize too early” (135). The situation that he is referring to is the divide between the sciences and the humanities.
His argument has merit. Since elementary school, my peers and I have been separated into distinctions: one was either a math/science kid or a language/history kid. I was the latter; I hated science and could never understand the point of calculating formulas that included imaginary numbers, but I was a good speller and liked to read, so boom: a language kid. This label made it so I never thought to venture out of my language comfort zone. I only took english and language AP classes and shuttered at the thought of having to take Pre-Calculus, and vowed to find a major that would allow me to bypass math and science for the entirety of my higher education, making me the antithesis of a math/science kid.
However, the introduction of these distinctions has been around since Bacon’s time. As Moran states, “Bacon attacked the orthodoxy of classical learning and argued instead that human beings and nature should be studied in themselves, without fixed preconceptions” (136). To my understanding, Bacon is stating that the disciplines should be studied without overlap, just like the idea that students must specialize into English distinctions or those of math and science.
This labeling of students is exactly the specialization that Snow is discussing. While I believe he takes his argument into an unnecessarily aggressive place, referring to literary intellectuals who disagreed with him as “…imbecile expressions of anti-social feelings” (135), his underlying idea is correct. By pushing students into these disciplines, society as a whole is creating pupils who feel as though they must pick a side. Personally, I haven’t met too many Chemistry and English double majors so far at school. Even my major combination, English and Business Administration, seems to throw people for a loop. How can I take a Lyric Essay class and a Business Law 1 lecture in the same semester when they are such different distinctions?
The answer is: they aren’t. Yes, the foundations behind English and math/science classes are very different. But there are so many parallels between the disciplines as wholes. As Moran discusses, the scientific method has been applied to analytical purposes in literature. The idea of empiricism, which Moran references repeatedly throughout the chapter is exactly this argument in its definition: the theory that all knowledge is derived from sense-experience.
The idea of interdisciplinarity in itself comes from the thought of breaking down the barriers between educational distinctions. To do this, educators must stop labeling and classifying students as those of either the humanities or the sciences. Once this stops, the narrow-mindedness of students will eventually fall away, creating interdisciplinarity throughout education.