Interested In ‘Humanities’, Go For It!

 By Rhea Kumar:

What was your CGPA, beta?
10.”
Wow, a perfect score! Congratulations! So, will you opt for Biology or Computer Science in class XI?
Actually, I’m not planning to study Science.
Really? But why not beta? You must opt for Science when you’re so bright”. Then when I keep silent, “I guess you must be interested in Business and Accounts,so, Commerce then?
“No, not really.”
A long pause ensues. Then, with amazement and a hint of disdain “ So, you’re planning to study ARTS then?”
I must have had this conversation at least a dozen times through the month of March, after my Class X results were declared and I announced that I wanted to opt for the Humanities stream. The reactions I encountered were always similar: shock, disapproval, despair and even some serious counseling. I must confess that hearing the same thing from so many people did cause some confusion in my mind and made me doubt my own choices at times. But I stuck to my guns and after a year in the “Idiot” section (this is how the majority of people view the Humanities stream), I am confident that I made the right choice.

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The Humanities stream has been much maligned for many, many generations while Science has been considered a clearly superior and preferred option. I have tried to address below some of the common harbored misconceptions about Humanities and my responses to the same:

1. It’s an “Idiot” Stream: The common misconception is that Humanities is a stream for those who are not smart or intelligent enough to `get’ Science in school. That phenomenon is a thing of the past. Today, students opt for Humanities not because they feel they cannot `cope’ with Science but because the Humanities stream interests them and appeals to them. A quick survey of the Humanities students in any school today will reveal that some of the brightest students have opted for this stream. Why have they done that? A person studying Humanities often has a different mindset than someone who is studying Science. Humanities students are more aware and passionate about world affairs, social issues, politics, economics, human rights issues and so on.

The other point to keep in mind is while some of the students who opt for Humanities may not be academically bright in the conventional sense, they are often very talented in diverse fields such as music, fine arts, dance or sports. Does that make them any less intelligent? Anyone who is familiar with the Multiple Intelligence theory will know that intelligence transcends beyond academics. Today, a skilled violinist will be regarded as intelligent as someone else who aces every single Olympiad. So, just because some Humanities students may not get the best grades does not make them slow or dumb.

2. It’s an Easy Stream: In terms of course load, Humanities is somewhat `lighter’ than Science but by no means is it a cakewalk or a `breeze’. A comparison with Commerce would put the two streams almost at par in terms of course work, especially where Humanities students have also chosen to study Mathematics and Economics.

Gone are the days when most Humanities subject required only rote learning and memorizing facts, figures and dates. The examination pattern today is radically different in the Humanities stream. To score well, one needs to go beyond the textbook and be abreast of current affairs. History and Political Science may seem like subjects that rely on rote learning, but they definitely require critical thinking skills. History, today, is not just about a chronological study of dynasties and wars but also focuses on the events that shaped the lives of common people at different points of time. Political Science, today, is not confined to a study of the Indian government, but also requires an understanding of its similarities and differences to other political systems and the basic differences in ideology that have shaped these diverse forms of polity and society. So, while Humanities students may not spend every weekend in the stuffy confines of a coaching center, Humanities definitely requires a great deal of hard work and self-study!

3. It Limits Your Career Options: Today, career options go beyond Engineering, Medicine and Finance. Most engineers switch streams early on in their careers and move to finance or marketing. Why they choose to study engineering in the first place is always a mystery to me! In the last decade, there has been an explosion of non-conventional career options, many of which require a good grounding in Humanities rather than scientific knowledge. Mass Communication, Journalism, Design and Art, Rural Marketing, Law, Public Policy, Human Rights, Social Work are some of the career options that are available to Humanities students. These career options are not only interesting but also popular and lucrative.

Humanities with Mathematics is definitely a strong combination that leaves a lot of options open, including a career in Business or Finance. But even for those Maths-haters who chose to opt for a pure Humanities course, there is no reason to worry! A Liberal Arts background carries value in today’s world, with many colleges and employers looking for individuals who have a wider perspective on contemporary problems. Nothing gives you a wider perspective than an education in Humanities.

I feel lucky that I was able to opt for Humanities without facing any pressure from my parents and family. I feel it has enriched my life in many ways and given me life skills that will stay with me all through my life, beyond my years as a student. The heated discussions in Political Science have encouraged me to appreciate other points of view, even if I do not necessarily agree with them. History has taught me to learn from my past mistakes as well as achievements and helped me acknowledge the contribution of our ancestors to the world today. Economics has helped me understand the theory behind the economic phenomena and the government polices that we see around us every day.

I must state clearly that it is not my objective here to prove that the Humanities stream is superior to Science or Commerce. Every stream has its strengths and limitations, and students should choose streams according to their interests and career objectives, rather than only studying Science because it is the `done thing’. If Humanities genuinely interests you, do not be discouraged by the stigma that is often attached to this stream. Mindsets and attitudes in our society are changing and I’m sure the day is not far when the Humanities stream will also enjoy a pride of place in our education system.

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About The Author

I am a class 12 humanities student, a voracious reader and passionate writer.

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21 Responses

  1. pande_aniket

    Very well written. Even I am a class 12 student but unfortunately ‘Science’. I got 9.8 CGPA in class 10. I didn’t know anything about about any other field, except that there is something like trade in commerce and mugging up in humanities( a sheer delusion).My parents and teachers guided me towards the path most traveled and that is science. Soon I discovered that I am lost some where between the bulky books and strict routines that made no sense to me. I did regret sometimes but it was not possible for me to change the stream after that. I started failing in all the subjects but used to get very good marks in English. Every other subject made no sense to me. I used to spent 8-9 hours reading news papers ,fiction, non-fiction, different magazines and journals. Traveling was something which always a stress buster for me. I used to travel a lot and attend various kinds of seminars and visit the most famous libraries and bookshops in my city, Mumbai. I never cared about marks. I was least bothered that I am failing. Every time they used to call my parents and two years were very distressed. Then one day it happened like principal announced checking for all bags so as to get grab of some crackers, as Diwali was next day. I wasn’t there in classroom when my bag was ripped open. All they found was two novels, 5 issues of Tehelka, two of caravan which I had purchased yesterday, one issue of The Week and few newspapers. My maths teacher was heading the search and unfortunately she only checked my bag. After I came to the class, things didn’t go fine. Everybody asked me only one question,”Why didn’t you take humanities?”. I had no answer. This is the way it goes. I wrote this only because I want to highlight that there are many like me who do not know what they want to pursue with in future and end up making grave mistakes. I am writing my boards now after which I am pursuing Humanities. I’ll leave science, provided I don’t fail board exams. There should be proper counseling for all the students after their class 10 exams along with their class teachers and parents. Along with students’ academic record, co-curricular records should be given prime importance. After that a Councillor should suggest a proper field for a student based on his interests. I know all these aren’t enough, but still they make things a bit clear and easy for a student. Your writing made me go back in the past. Very well described. Keep it up.

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  2. Suprava Banerjee

    I am really glad that you made an attempt in writing this.It is a common thought among all students of humanities which you have elaborated very well.

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  3. Swati

    I am with you Rhea! I face the same reactions when i tell people that i am a humanities student. It feels weird, but i guess humanities has it’s own charm that the “science” folks may not understand! :P

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  4. Rhea Kumar

    thank you everybody!!
    to those who are unhappy with their choice in science-all the best, its never too late to join humanities :D

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  5. Bigyan

    i am unhappy with my choice…i m an engg graduate but frankly speaking dis is the worst decission of my lyf…perhaps humanities is my passion

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  6. Kudrat Dutta Chaudhary

    I am so happy to know that there are people out there who listen to themselves and actually opt for what their heart says.
    People need to realise that one should always do what they love and love what they do and if that happens to be ARTS or HUMANITIES for some then be it.
    I am currently pursuing Law and I opted for Humanities in my intermediate (couldn’t have been any more happier) and after getting a CGPA of 9.6 I too experienced raised eyebrows from random people regarding my career option, but I never let that stifle me .
    People who think arts or humanities is easy are definitely very ignorant, infact this stream involves such subjects for which you never have a ‘perfect’ answer and thus it is a presumed rule that ‘there is always scope for improvement’.
    I don’t know when people would come out of their age old opinions and look beyond the picture.

    But needless to say, well written :)
    Best of Luck.

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  7. Aditi Parekh

    Another issue is that there just aren’t enough schools that offer humanities at the Sr. Secondary level. But that shouldn’t bog us down. I started with Commerce in a normal CBSE school but now I’m graduating Class 12 with History and Psychology because Open-Schooling helped me to it:
    http://nios.ac.in/online-course-material/sr-secondary-courses.aspx
    Of course, this meant that I had to do it on my own without teachers, but it doesn’t have to be that way. You can use this syllabus to study with the help of tutors or study the course along with your Science/Commerce if you want to study it for the sake of knowledge.

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  8. Ananya

    It used to make my blood boil to see my relatives and friends being biased about my choice of course. Many genuinely thought that I had not scored adequate marks in my 10th boards to opt for “science” which was frustrating. It was hard to explain why, in spite of doing well, I wanted to take up a “dead” stream with nothing in store. It took a year to actually shatter their illusion when I started bringing in trophies and prizes for the extra curricular work I was doing along with a great academic result. Right now, i’m pursuing my grads in a Journalism course in Bombay and I’m glad I had the backing of my Humanities background. So, yay for Humanities :D

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  9. Neha Jha

    It is so nice to see so many of my kind here. I’m a ‘Humanities’ student and proud to be one. I’ve also gone through all those problems which you guys faced. You know what? When you start working, it doesn’t really matter which background you come from or what marks you scored! I also opted for ‘History’ in +2 which made everyone question what they called ‘2 horrible decisions’…I have always loved History and English and scored well in them without ever mugging things. I believe, Humanities students are far more sensitive to life, emotions, sentiments and can cope with any thing that comes their way. Literature teaches you about life. Unforunately, I think, this bias towards science and commerce as against ‘Humanities’ is same as gender bias…it may come as a strong statement. But, I see things this way. My parents were worried that I won’t get a job soon..that my sister will get a job sooner than me even though she’s younger because she chose engineering..But, I got one. Though, I’ve resigned from the job now, I think its Humanities which got me through….my friends may think otherwise, but, I know what I’m doing….I will be doing MA in English and then go for Mass Communication.
    I just wish that our elders and even people of our generation understand this simple thing. They don’t have any idea how frustrating it is to go through their taunts and questioning.

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  10. rythem

    i m in 10th standard..n i badly want to take humanities!!..but as my school doesn’t provide humanities n changing my school is nt possible nw!..so is it possible to take sci in 11th (as i m one of the toppers) n thn shift to humanities in college??? this way i ll b on a safer side also n my parents won’t object as well..

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  11. Akash Panchal

    Good Job Rhea ! (Mother of Shani Dev , Hahaha. Please Don’t bother about this). I am a Bachelor of Arts student first year formerly taken commerce in + 2.I agree with your views but it still cannot be neglected that there is a big sigma attached being an arts student . I scored 84 % in 12th and chose humanities against as my graduation against my fathers wish.He says it is only for people who wants to run away from studies or weaklings low scorers in studies.Our society and education system in this country are more responsible for the reasons. Sometimes I doubt my own decision. I have to face all the taunts on my decision to choose humanities. But still there is no pain no gain. We do not accept defeat.

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  12. Shivanshu Srivastava

    Thanks a lot for providing with such realistic knowledge about Humanities. I am a class 10 student from Lucknow and I wish to do L.LLB after 12th. So I am thinking of taking Humanities as my subject in 11th and 12th, but I was having many doubts about the career options and the subjects and other possibilities. But thank you now my doubts are almost clear. The way you presented this article using realistic talks of day-to-day life is worth appreciation. From the expression of your thoughts I can make out that you’re a brilliant student of this stream.
    Thank you! :)

    –Shivanshu K. Srivastava
    ([email protected])

    Reply
  13. Shubham Aggarwal

    WOW…Very good ! I also love humanities…. bt unfortunately due to parental pressure i have to opted for commerce :(… Bt still my interest and passion for sst will always remain at the top… Love u sst!!!

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  14. Kanchan

    I have opted for science due to parental pressure. I am in love with humanities, which makes each moment of my life miserable. I thought of attempting suicide even. My father constantly pressurizes me to become a doctor. I am fed up. I wish to have a life and career in humanities….. What should I do after 12th ? I am not at ALL interested in science. Please help me. Please

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  15. siddhi

    I my decision to opt humanities is right. I dont care about what people thinks. thank u soo… much for making me realise .

    Reply
  16. mansi

    i am in class 10 and confused with the streams i want to go in civil services and law and my family background is whole science so they also want me to take science because they think arts vala student cant do much its a stream of weak ones but i am thankful to the person who wrote this true think srsly man your correct i hope this may help me insisting my parents to take arts .
    THANK U

    Reply