Why the humanities are important


As many KO students wonder what career they should pursue after college, they likely gravitate to the subject they did best at in school whether that’s art, science, English, math, history or any other variations of those broad topics. But what changes once we get closer to college? Many students and parents view STEM careers as the most important, while the humanities are shoved aside as “hobbies.” This is a dangerous mindset that our society as a whole believes to be true.

When you think of a successful adult, what career do they have? According to the Huffington Post, the popularity of Humanities majors is declining among college students. American students have been convinced into believing that STEM careers will earn them more money or prestige even if their real passion is for the humanities. People often claim that there is a need for computer science and technology workers in modern society, which is true, but what happens when technology outgrows people?

A large reason why Americans feel pressure to pursue a STEM career is because of America’s low standards of education compared to other countries like India and China. Even politicians endorse STEM careers, in hopes of boosting America’s world ranking. Many parents also prefer that their child pursue a STEM career because they are viewed as more stable than careers like being an artist or a writer.

There is nothing wrong with being interested in STEM, but our society should equally value the humanities. In a time where political tensions run high and civil discourse is hard to come by, we need more leaders in the humanities. We need citizens who read, write and who know how to discuss complicated topics without losing respect for all opposing perspectives. People who major in the arts are often scoffed at for wasting their education when in reality, art is what enriches our country’s culture and sets us apart as individuals. A civilization without art would be dry and stagnant.

The humanities are about storytelling, which is a crucial aspect to society that is too often overlooked. Without history, we would lose the perspective of human evolution and growth. Without art and music, we would lose a creative way to express emotions. Without writing, we lose stories and voices that allow us to learn more about ourselves. I’m not saying that any of these art forms are at risk of going extinct, but that these creative careers get much less respect than others even though they are fundamental to our society.

People in STEM careers need creativity in their jobs as well. Scientists need to come up with creative new ways to solve problems, engineers need to think outside the box when inventing new technology, and mathematicians need graphs to visualize complex ideas. STEM and the humanities are not inherently separate, but we have been trained to believe that the humanities are inferior.

Elaina Provencio, a student at UC Berkeley, says “To most, a degree in Liberal Arts or Humanities is a wasted piece of paper and a job at a fast-food chain. This could not be further from the truth. There are strengths and advantages that a degree in fields such as History, Linguistics, and Political Science hold that STEM degrees do not. Humanities majors encourage analysis, critical thinking, and a vast knowledge of various topics” (HuffPost).

KO students shouldn’t be persuaded by America’s current obsession with STEM careers when choosing what their major in college. It’s not about the type of degree you receive in college, it’s about what you choose to do with it. We shouldn’t rank majors from best to worst because that completely disregards student’s individual passions. Schools also shouldn’t try to push students down a path that is perceived to be the better one. Creativity and new ideas are always needed and stories always need to be told.