If you want a career, then study the STEM subjects… apparently.
In another obnoxiously ignorant move, government officials have lampooned the utility of arts subjects. Frighteningly, Education Secretary, Nicky Morgan has attacked arts subjects in a recent speech made at the opening of the ‘Your Life’ campaign, presumptuously suggesting them to be dead-ends. “…the subjects that keep young people’s options open and unlock the door to all sorts of careers are the STEM subjects (science, technology, engineering and maths)” Morgan said this week. The Secretary went on to say that young people are making decisions at 15 that will “hold them back” for the rest of their lives.
The message here seems to be that studying the humanities is a risk to your future career. I wonder if Nicky Morgan’s own degree held her back? Yes, indeed – Morgan’s own Jurisprudence degree happens to be one of the Humanities – the very fleet of faculties that she is attacking. Impressive that she has managed to make it all the way to the Secretary of Education with such a risky humanities degree. If only she had taken her own advice and studied science or maths; perhaps then we would have escaped her ignorance as Education Secretary.
It should be noted that Morgan’s comments may have been twisted out of context; while trying to promote the importance and benefits of studying a STEM subject, perhaps she has easily been misconstrued as bad-mouthing the arts. The Independent reports that “a source” at the Department of Education claimed that Morgan was not “downgrading the importance of arts subjects are all” but that “it makes sense” to keep studying STEM subjects if pupils are seeking to advance to a career in technology etc, etc.. It’s a stretch, but thank god we have a government to tell us that we should study technology if we want to work in IT. That one really would have stumped us. Phew.
Rob Warner, the Dean of Humanities at the University of Chichester says “Studying the Humanities made my careers possible, in commercial publishing, the voluntary sector and university teaching and research, management and leadership.” As a study of human experience, it seems like its a section of study that shouldn’t be discounted.
The stance rather unfortunately – and likely inadvertently – adopted by our Secretary of Education is not a new one. Head teachers, including my own, have called subjects like drama and art “soft” for decades now. You can bet that they still go home and watch Game of Thrones though with a glass of wine and sense of superiority, mindless of the fact that George R. R. Martin, Shakespeare and Queen, Monet and Rowling were all a bit artistically inclined when it came down to it. This perception of the arts as a futile pursuit seems proliferated by common ignorance of its inherent power. Science and maths are undoubtedly what make the world, but art and literature are what create and change it. This view needs to change and change fast. In a world where education is being constantly reformed, discrimination against arts subjects is something that should be addressed. Theatre is being reformed, so are novels, so is art. Education needs to change too. This blog is about the renewal and reinventions of theatre, and if that is to continue, we need new students studying drama and re-imagining it in new forms. If there were no artists, it would be a very bland world and just like Einstein said (I’m pretty sure he studied science or something), if a fish forever judges its intelligence by how well it climbs a tree, it will forever think it is stupid.
What’s your opinion on Nicky Morgan’s comments? Have you ever experienced humanities bashing? Please let me know in your comments.
Beautiful artwork by kerbyrosanes