The choice between Science and Arts

As we’ve seen, education today has become very career-oriented.

Published: 03rd December 2013 12:42 PM  |   Last Updated: 03rd December 2013 12:43 PM   |  A+A-


As we’ve seen, education today has become very career-oriented. It’s not surprising, therefore, that more and more children are encouraged to take up the sciences — parents and teachers believe that doing so will help students land high paying jobs. Many believe that if you have a sound BE degree, your life is ‘settled’. As a result, students who don’t have an aptitude for science subjects are pushed into taking them up.

Very few schools offer career counselling and usually students end up studying subjects that their parents and teachers want them to. Pretty often, students who are not particularly interested in any subject end up taking the stream that all their friends are taking — at least, they can be together in their misery! If one person signs up for IIT coaching, the next thing you know, the entire class wants to go for IIT coaching, irrespective of whether they actually enjoy studying these subjects or not.

Yes, we did say ‘enjoy’. Such a word juxtaposed with ‘studying’ might seem completely out of place, given the hugely pressurising education system that students are forced into. Nevertheless, let’s say it again — study what you enjoy studying. You might hear well-meaning adults tell you that life is not for ‘enjoying’ and that you have to work hard and do things that you don’t like doing for a ‘bright future’. While it is true that hard work pays, it’s equally true that there is no point in putting a lot of hard work into something that you’re simply not interested in. Many of us are so frightened of taking up responsibility for our own future that we’re happy to entrust everyone else with these very crucial decisions.

In the current climate, studying the arts and humanities is looked down upon so much that most schools don’t even have these options in Plus Two. If you can’t become an engineer or doctor, they seem to say, at least do commerce and become a chartered accountant! While some schools do offer courses from other disciplines as options that students can study along with their core subjects, most don’t.

The sciences and the arts are so irrevocably divorced that no conversation is possible between the two.

But if you take a look at great scientists from the past, you will see that many of them were quite gifted in the arts or were at least interested in them. Leonardo da Vinci was a painter, sculptor, architect, musician, mathematician, engineer, inventor, anatomist, geologist, cartographer, botanist, and writer.

This long list might seem bewildering to us because we’re so trained to focus on only one subject at a time that we’ve forgotten the fundamental drive behind education: human curiosity. The desire to learn more, understand more. It is this desire that uncovers human genius and potential. If da Vinci had been a Class 10 student today, it’s likely that he’d have attended coaching classes seven days a week and not really had the time or inclination to pursue silly activities like painting the Mona Lisa.

Einstein, when asked what the attitude of a student should be, said, “It is not so very important for a person to learn facts. For that he does not really need a college. He can learn them from books. The value of an education in a liberal arts college is not learning of many facts, but the training of the mind to think something that cannot be learned from textbooks.”

It is this training that we have to develop a love for.

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