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

Posted on January 31, 2014 in Education, Staff Picks, Taboos

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.