Losing our Humanities

Ellina G (Year 10), Chief Contributor

“We’re investing so much into developing the right side of our brains, we’re forgetting that it’s only half of what we have to work with.” – Robby Berman, “STEM Is Our New Religion, But It’s Probably a False God” 

In our current culture, STEM and Humanities subjects are gladiators – placed in an arena in a fight to the death. They are presented as a dichotomy, as polar opposites. Many students are forced to choose between one or the other.  

This article was originally planned to be about the inequality, about how STEM subjects have so much more value placed upon them. And while, in my opinion, that is still the case – there is another, just as important point to be made here. 

Art (whether liberal, fine or social science) is vital to the function of STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) and vice versa. A good learner, a good citizen of the world, needs to be a master of both. 

“STEM will get us to Mars. Humanities will help us get along here on Earth” – Don Gale, “Education for life instead of education about rules…” 

STEM and the humanities complement each other, they make each other make sense. For example, the communication that language offers is vital to any craft: what good is a discovery that you cannot explain to anyone else? 

The Humanities offer an insight into how society functions, an insight into who we are as humans. Science and other STEM subjects explain the mathematical proof, the physical realm of our experiences. Both are equally important, both allow for progress, occupying a shared space of multifaceted complexity in a cosmic Venn diagram, despite the disparities between them. 

Research only proves that the rivalry is uncalled for (research that was, what a surprise, conducted through mathematics – yet communicated through language). 

For example, a 2018 consensus report (“Branches from the same tree”) investigating the effects of integrating the liberal arts into STEM education found that those who received a well-balanced education tend to see improved educational or career outcomes.  

STEM and the Humanities work best in a symbiosis; so please, don’t fall into the trap of choosing one or the other.