This article attempts to probe into the reasons that have long rendered humanities as a discipline to be looked down upon.
“When my relatives ask me what I’m studying, it generally ends up in an awkward situation when I tell them I’m pursuing a Bachelors of Arts in English”, said a second-year English Honours student from Daulat Ram College when asked about the reaction of her other family members on her choice of career.
Humanities has, for a long time suffered the scrutiny of conventional minds. The conception that it is good for nothing prevails even in today’s millennia. Students having an inclination towards the discipline struggle to explain it to their parents and society and are more often than not, forced to study traditional courses. Not only does it result in the deterioration of one’s personality, but it also results in frustration that is unhealthily harboured for a lifetime by the students. This article shall look into three reasons as to why humanities are looked down upon.
1. It is thought to be “easy peasy”
It is a truth hard to digest that subjects such as philosophy, English, Political Science, Psychology, etc, are thought to be “very easy” despite their extensive and in-depth readings. Not only does the older generation hold this view but students of our generation into fields such as engineering are often seen/heard making fun of Arts students. The next point will elaborate on why the discipline is a victim of such a stereotype.
2. The subjectivity in and of the discipline
The un-objective nature of the subjects that a Bachelor of Arts course offers acts as a major force of demotivation among students (and their parents). Students who are just out of the school system, used to the lenient marking face a tough time since the subjects welcome a variety of interpretations and are never graded too high, like sciences. Despite this, the subjects are thought to be easy and viewed as rather ones that don’t require too much time. A third-year student studying Philosophy recalls, “Some elders in my family believe that I have a lot of free time since I’m doing arts. My parents and I have stopped making them understand what the subject really asks for”.
Non-arts subjects can be (in comparison) easily be moulded into questions with multiple choices but such a circumstance is difficult to achieve when Philosophy, Hindi, etc, are cases at hand. And though it is true that objective approaches are being given more priority nowadays and continuous attempts are being made to transform subjective choices into objective ones to make things easier, the truth boils down to one simple fact – the true spirit and essence of the subjects that the discipline of humanities consists of, is in its subjectivity.
3. It doesn’t offer an immediate outcome like sciences or commerce.
The scepticism surrounding the discipline seems to stem out of the Darwinian approach of survival – that man will go to any extent to survive and that life is a test of survival of the “fittest”. This “survival” in today’s time is dependent mostly on a financial basis. And studying humanities doesn’t exactly guarantee a job prospect immediately after the completion of the program. This creates a feeling of insecurity and doubt in students and parents. Gradually, it leads to pressure and frustration and the student taking his/her own life.
Humanities, as a discipline teaches life’s philosophy, the art of critiquing and analysing stuff, and a lot more than books can ever hold. It teaches one how to look at the broader picture of life rather than focusing on short term gains and losses. And though all these values do not directly culminate into a monetary outcome, it teaches us also to be patient. Money and jobs are important, no doubt, but at the cost of what?
Feature Image Credits: Portland Community College