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I Chose Humanities Over Science Not Because I Am ‘Dumb’

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By Rajkanya Mahapatra:

DISCLAIMER: This article has no facts/figures. No percentage signs. This is not about politics, the economy or Rahul Gandhi. I shall also refrain from using popular terms like YOLO, LOL, Sanskaar and ‘The Nation Wants to Know’. If the article seems a turn off, I’d rather suggest that you utilise your energy in reading something about the black hole. If you are still reading, then well, this is important too. I will tell you why. This article will deal with that section of the Indian population, a significant, sizeable section, which passes on from Class 10th every year. That segment of the population is pushed, blinded and made to go places by people who make decisions on their behalf, claiming to know what is good for them.

subject choiceThis is a tell-tale of so many out there who have been looked down upon, ridiculed, called a ‘retard’ on social networking websites because they ended up or took a conscious and calculated decision to opt for Humanities in Class 11th and not Science. *blasphemous, isn’t it?*

No. I am not going to cry about the kind of experiences I have had being a student who belongs to the Humanities/Arts background. Although it was difficult. What infuriates me is the overall perception we have towards education today. Of how it has been reduced to a tool that one uses in order to satiate their materialistic needs. The kind of pressure that a student is under when he/she has to live up to the expectations of not just the parents but the ‘pados wali’ aunty and uncle and that part of the extended family from whom you get calls from only when the results come out. It infuriates me when people make distinctions between a boy and a girl and what they ought to study. Why girls could only do well studying Biology or Humanities and leave the ambit of engineering untouched.

This is a phenomenon and is prevalent in almost all small towns in India today (I am grossly underestimating). I belonged to one such small town: Varanasi. I was in one of the best schools there can be, my teachers were very happy that I took Humanities because I had always wanted to be a journalist and Humanities would give me a proper base in all subjects I had to have an idea of, plus both my aptitude and interest lay in there. I wrote those two words in bold because they are the most important words we choose to deliberately ignore. Our mentality towards education and how to achieve it, our perceptions of it, how this realm is plagued by sexism, how societal, peer and parental pressure drives so many students in the wrong direction. They struggle, fumble and fall. They find themselves stuck in an awkward, uncomfortable position 20 years later realising that whatever it is that they were doing was not something they would have liked to do had there been a choice. Had they been given the freedom to assess their own strengths and weaknesses, explored options and made an informed decision.

This unspoken, uncontested battle is waged by one subject stream over another, every year. I looked around myself in Class 11th and found most of my friends, very respectably and safely stashed in the Commerce sections. My class had only 20 students. I chose Humanities over Science (don’t scoff) and like the sex ratio in Haryana, I would take a glance at the Science sections and find almost all the guys in my batch right there, whether or not, they had an interest in Science, whether or not their aptitude lay in there. There were girls around too, but wait, isn’t Science like all the other things in the world which are supposedly difficult and strain your brain, only for the men?

The system in India is such that it stresses, asserts and aggresses a particular stream of subjects whilst labelling the others as easy. Humanities is for ‘dumb’ people. Political Science, Geography, History, Sociology, Psychology are for dumb people. Yeah right. This is a pre-dominant view in the land of complex calculations, motions and covalent bonds (well at least most of them). Some students are absolutely oblivious to the fact that there exists another stream of subjects that are extensively studied or the viewpoint of the money-marks-minded public in general.

The society expects every other boy and girl to either be an engineer or a doctor and most recently a chartered accountant. There is absolutely nothing wrong with being an engineer or a doctor or a historian or an anthropologist or a stock broker. The point is, we need to stop denigrating professions, stop comparing IQ levels. Stop putting other people down in general;  stop thinking that I happen to belong to a much hyped stream of education than the other, that my subjects have complex calculations the other person has India’s entire political history since independence, and they should be considered nothing because my school puts up gigantic pictures of those students who get some 700 rank in the IIT Advanced exam and the other person gets no recognition for scoring a 95% percent.

We are weighing everything on a wrong scale. Looking at the world with the wrong pair of glasses on. It upsets me when Science as a subject stream is given more importance than any other subject in the country. I have a problem when people look down upon me, snigger and think I am stupid because I belong to Humanities. I refuse to compare subjects. I refuse to put them on a scale and rate them on how difficult one is than the other. I respect everything out there in the world, that can be studied, that is out there for us to know. I refuse to step onto to the bandwagon and be obsessed with the obsession of getting into an IIT. I embrace education with what it has to teach me, what it has to offer to me, keeping in mind if I can comprehend it and like it too.

The main problem lies in our associations. Our associations are flawed. We associate education with money. We associate marks with intelligence. We judge people based on what they choose to study.

Obsession. Sexism. Hypocrisy. Chauvinism. Stagnancy. Misinformation — These are few of the many words that suck the meaning out of the word ‘education’. These parasites have been digging in for really long now. But change is inevitable. I am being optimistic and will hope that changing times are better for us all. That students don’t have to be high headed or bullied based of what they study. That parents in specific and the society in general will broaden their perspective on what makes their children more intelligent, more successful and most importantly, happy.

You must be to comment.
  1. Basawa Prasad Kunale

    Nice article. Something which was never expressed before.

  2. Sneha Roychoudhury

    Okay. Why do I relate to every word of this article? Oh wait a minute, I know why. Because I have been through it, every day of the past two years. And by the end of it all I would say to the BIG question- ” Why not science, when you did so well in 10th?” would be:
    “Two roads diverged in a yellow wood
    And sorry I could not travel both
    And be one traveler, long I stood
    And looked down one as far as I could
    To where it bent in the undergrowth;
    Then took the other, as just as fair…”

  3. Sneha Roychoudhury

    *And by the end of it all I would say to the BIG question- ” Why not science, when you did so well in 10th?” merely this…

  4. Astha

    I can connect with this article very well. It is time we understood education to be an end in itself. It is high time we understand that education must enable one to become a better person. I too am optimistic. 🙂

  5. Robinson Biruly

    so close to my personal experience, i had chosen commerce instead then also we students in whole science students of school were stigmatized with one liner “Are you a commerce student” if that student is unable to answer. Also we commerce students were labeled as nuisance mongers. This experience is what forced me to leave for delhi from ranchi and I am happily graduating from economics.

  6. Neha Jha

    You have written exactly how i feel about this. I was so tortured mentally when I decided to study Humanities in +2. My dad was so very mad at me. And, everybody around me was just going crazy. My cousin was in IIT, so, my parents wanted me to study engineering even when I was extremely dumb in Maths! I couldn’t understand it. They knew how terrible I was in Maths, but still, they were bucking under societal pressure. I was so horribly upset. And, now, they are the ones who support me. Although I still have that frustration in my head and my parents are speechless when I remind them about it, but, I know I was right and they were bloody wrong!!!

  7. Yusra

    Haha. I got a 10 CGPA in 10th grade. And “chose” Humanities because I happen to LIKE it’s subjects and was sensible enough to overlook the much emphasised prejudice against it despite the anguishment of one of my relatives who is a chemistry teacher and was positively horrified when he found out that, I , who should have been an aspiring doctor chose otherwise. Why am I telling you all this? No. I’m not trying to show off. I’ve been there, done that. 😛 I’m just reaffirming the fact that I’m a humanities student AND proud. 😀
    The article is well put. 🙂

  8. samprikta

    this was concisely put by the author.
    i am a humanities student and i do get barbs on had i taken science i would have been more of a scientific aptitude person..
    and well humanities is considered to be a piece of cake specially for those with passable linguistic skill which is just a bubble that needs to burst…

  9. Madhur Khanna

    I am an engineering student and I completely agree with your opinion. If I had the aptitude in humanities, I would have loved to take it up because according to me, Humanities as a stream deserves more respect, because engineers deal with machines, doctors deal with helpless patients..But psychologists deal with people who often don’t know what is wrong with them. They can’t be cured by a calculation and anyone from the humanities stream reinvents himself/herself everyday! Girls can be better engineers, no doubt! In fact, the whole point of engineering is creativity and innovation and girls often turn out to be more creative than men when it comes to projects.

  10. priya

    i agree i myself was completely unaware what other options were present after 10th so when i got 10 cgpa i blindly took up science just because everyone thought i was smart enough for it,but i suffered for two years but gladly after my 12th i got into bmm ,a more informed choice. so i guess students should be counselled so that they are well informed of their capabilities, their likes and dislikes and what options lay before them.

  11. Swarnabh

    I myself chose Social Sciences after joining Engineering. Both are horrible. Social Sciences are worse in that you get to mug up all the more. Why do we forget the fact that education doesn’t come from books…. You know what Swami Vivekananda had said? “Don’t go after books. If books were the gateway to knowledge, then the library would be the most knowledgeable person in the whole world.” What we need is again quoting him, “Muscles of iron and nerves of steel”. Which reading books hardly is a recipe for… Hail Karma… Hail Karma Yoga… The Way of Action…

  12. Monistaf

    Good article and I commend your choice to pursue your passion. Everyone has a different way of looking at life, some of us can accept that we will do what has to be done in order to survive, regardless of whether we are interested in it. After all, it does not have to be pleasant if you get paid to do it. If I can make a good living, I will spend all the extra time and money to pursue my interests. Humanities and arts definitely have their place in society and I am glad that people like you are in it. I agree that it has nothing to do with intellectual capacity, that people in engineering are somehow smarter than those who are in arts. Society’s perception is based on future job and earning potential, their own experience and prejudices in terms of what is important to them. For most people, education is the path to a career and unless you have a big inheritance coming your way, making sure you are getting a big bang for your buck is amongst the top priorities because after all, it is a huge commitment for 4 precious years or more and a lot of money to get a quality education.

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