Humanities vs Sciences. Who Gives a Shit?

Sunday, 15 January 2017
Recently I've read a lot of articles floating around on various student newspaper websites. The articles talk about the divide between humanities students and science students, normally arguing why one is intrinsically superior to the other. They are immature, bitchy and extremely closed minded. And I have a problem with them.

Pinning humanities students against science students is a waste of our time. It doesn't add any value and when we allow ourselves to believe that we are better than others it creates an inflated ego. Who wants that really?

Humanities students are fed up of being told that their degrees are useless and won't get them jobs.

Science students are fed up of being told we have no social skills, are boring and are in it for the money.

So why are we as students continuing to contribute to this weird ongoing fight about who is best?

I'm a big believer that you shouldn't have to tear down someone else's work to give value to your own. I'll fiercely defend my fellow scientists. If it wasn't for them you wouldn't be reading this blog post because computers, the internet etc wouldn't exist and you'd probably have died of cholera. But I can also respect the humanities and their importance in the quality of human life.

So I write a blog. It wouldn't take a genius to work out that I enjoy reading and writing. I also listen to music when I'm walking to my labs or writing my reports. I live in a country managed by politicians, my courses are organised by administrators and I still consider my religious education teacher from high school to be one of the most inspirational women in my life.

What I'm really trying to say is this. I'm a scientist. I'd hate studying a humanities degree. But I can understand that the people who hold these degrees hold a really valuable position not only in my life but in society.

It's also impossible for us to really understand the work that's required from different degree types. It would be so easy for me to assume that studying history is just reading books and writing essays. But that's extremely naive. I only own 4 textbooks and barely use them. What do I know about the work involved in writing an essay? I've done it 3 times since high school and honestly they sucked.

And it's easy to consider scientists as people who just sit in lecture theatres memorising equations. When we see scientists in the media we have Big Bang Theory types of nerdy men with 0 social skills and questionable dress sense. And it's easy to get lost in that stereotype. But what about the practical side of our degrees? My lab skills are probably the most valuable thing I've gained. And I've gained them through experience. That's why we have so many bloody contact hours a week. 

As much of a scientist as I am... I can see that the value of each subject is unique and cannot be quantified. Even if we like to quantify everything. This is a discussion about educational diversity, not a 9am quantum theory lecture. 

When we allow ourselves to be categorised in this way it's creating barriers between subjects and students that don't need to be there. We are allowing a hostility that is more harmful than helpful. Embrace the skills and qualities that your degree is teaching you but don't deny that other degrees have value in way that yours may not. 

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