Technology Students Need Shakespeare
By Diane Engelhardt
’Tis in my memory locked...
(Hamlet Act I Scene 3)
Yea, from the table of my memory I’ll wipe away all trivial fond
(Hamlet Act I Scene 5)
Has Ophelia forgotten her password? Is Hamlet promising to delete
all his files in order to be able to download the Ghost’s program?
Probably not, but they sound as if they did. Even if we do not
think that Shakespeare predicted the rise of the computer, we
can be certain that everything the human hand has created existed
first in the imagination.
Teaching our students about the imagination of the past, we fuel
the imagination of the future. More than ever before, employers
value the tremendous role of creativity and imagination in our
high tech world. Today’s businesses, ranging from healthcare institutions
to government agencies to electronics manufacturers, are in the
market for people who know technology. But they need more. They’re
looking for employees whose backgrounds are broader and interests
more expansive than just the latest technological advance—individuals
who have the aptitude for growth and development that will enable
them to contribute to the company in multiple ways.
Successful employees bring more than just “know how” to the table.
They bring perspective. They bring critical thinking and problem
solving abilities. They can relate to others, individually and
as a team, and appreciate diverse personalities and different
As such, a focus on developing “soft skills”—skills that are easily
translated into any business environment—must be at the core of
any higher educational program. Students need to learn how to
address their superiors effectively, how to handle criticism,
how to disagree about a substantive issue in a productive way.
They need to be able to make presentations that hold an audience’s
interest. They need to be able to write. That’s why technology
students need Shakespeare.
At DeVry, which offers associate and bachelor degree programs
in technology and technology-based business, we’ve made general
education courses, which encompass communication skills, social
sciences, humanities and general sciences, a key element of our
curriculum. We’ve found that such courses directly relate to our
graduates’ ability to succeed in the workplace. In fact, based
on feedback and the unique interests of our faculty, we’ve continued
to expand our offerings.
Some students initially approach these classes with skepticism.
How is learning Shakespeare going to help them get a job, they
ask. The answer is this: to achieve a person’s true potential
in his or her career, that person must not only learn skills,
but learn to think and to relate those skills to the outside world.
Or as Hamlet said: “The play is the thing...”#
Engelhardt is president of the DeVry Institute of Technology in
Long Island City, New York.
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