Arts VS Science - Finally Settling the Score

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Non-Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic
Yesterday I read a columnist in the Daily Telegraph stating the need for more math and science students and it sparked my anger when it debased arts and social subjects as “higher grades for less work”. So this is our comeback!

Submitted: September 05, 2012

A A A | A A A

Submitted: September 05, 2012



Arts VS Science – Finally Settling the Score

Here’s what I’m not: mathematical, scientific or technical; but here’s what I am: linguistic, articulate and creative – so why am I being told that I’m subordinate and have poor career prospects? The number of people with math, science and IT skills is slumping. Politicians, professors, corporate and industry bosses are beginning to stir – whispers of growing competition from the far east; rumours of new, lucrative superpowers. Their worried the next generation are too inept for Britain to prosper ahead of the emerging economies of India and China. They seem to believe that behind our hoodies and earphones there’s not a lot going on; the misconception is that some of us are too enthralled in our overly-liberal arts agenda to manage this great nation.

Perhaps it’s true. Britain has the lowest rate of 16-18 year olds studying maths in the developed world. Moreover, most school pupils drop science subjects at 16. So the pressure’s on. Japan has 85% of students achieving a maths A-level; while Indian students spend twice as long studying maths at High School than over here. Many people are under the impression that we need a sudden influx of math and science genii. But they’re mistaken.

When career planning, we should encourage young people to pursue a vocation they’re genuinely passionate about – something they want to do because they enjoy it. It would be wrong to put students in a position that compromised their aspirations by telling them it’s vain to take an arts degree because it will never pay up. Cajoling people into maths and science careers they’re not completely comfortable with only leads to high university dropout rates, increased unemployment and then more people signing on the dole.

Unfortunately, war has broken out between opposing sides of the subject spectrum. There’s now an annoying dogma that subjects pertaining to the arts and social sciences are unworthy, dumbed down and some sort of “easy option”. This attitude has probably stemmed from a growing popularity in arts subjects. But let me tell you that there’s nothing easy about securing a place on arts course with an intake of just 20 and a demand of over 250. As more people apply, entry requirements and competition soar – now only the very best candidates make the grade. Of course this equates with any math or science course. Nonetheless, getting a job as a mathematician is easy pickings with a shortfall of 200 000; succeeding with an arts subject and securing a job will require graft, tenacity and optimum employable skills to breakthrough in the inundated sector.

But in the end, it must be noted that effort and ambition will always be the real winners - regardless of the path you choose. Whether working with novels or test tubes, you will get what you give. And any imbalance between the number of people studying an arts course and the number of people studying a science course will redress itself naturally with no interference necessary. Education statistics from overseas should not be taken at face value and compared directly to ours. Many eastern countries have education embedded in their social values – parents pressure children into studying for hours and hours and anything short of 100% is a failure. This is unsurprising in some cases: education is the best route out of poverty, a problem still rife in China and India. Britain’s erudition in all subject areas is historically renowned and, even today, envied worldwide – why are people migrating from the four corners to come to our Universities? Because they’re the best! From Isaac Newton to Stephen Hawking – our scientists are the stuff of legends. And english? Well, we own it!


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