The Great Subject Battle


English students like me and those involved in the arts will be glad to hear that critical reading has been proven to increase brain activity in a similar way to mathematicians claim solving equations do. This means that we finally have a nice retort to give to those ridiculous questions such as why are you even studying English?

When I began college, I told my dad that I will be studying English, History, Politics and Economics, His response: Shut Up!

In today’s world, the humanities have suffered a battering by those in charge. Especially in the UK, maths teachers are being offered a bonus to teach at college level whereas English teachers are being sidelined. This is the great subject battle and maths (or math) is winning at the moment.

In many cultures, this is because the professions people aspire to, require mathematical or science subjects such as an accountant, doctor or pharmacist. The jobs people think will bring untold riches and wealth. However, this results in students undertaking humanities subjects to be looked down upon.

You’re clever, you should be doing something better than English or teaching.

These are the kind of absurd comments I and many people across the globe face by people who see anything other than maths or science subjects as worthless. Of course, I am not saying that science or maths should not be respected, all I seek is a more equal attitude towards subjects across the spectrum. Many friends of mine have been forced to study things that they ardently hate and that is no way to live.

I think that the importance of English has been forgotten. It is funny that every media interaction we have, whether its the TV, newspapers, books, poems, movies or documentaries, would be impossible without the skills learnt when studying English. It could be said that these things give meaning to our lives, they cause emotions and they create new experiences. Without them, our life on this planet would be a mundane existence.

So if you are studying English, then be proud of the route you have chosen, be proud that you have not been bent to the will of social desires and be proud of the value of your subject in the world.

What have your experiences been when choosing what to pursue? Have you faced criticsm or been supported by those around you? How do people react to when you tell them what you are studying and how do you feel about their reactions?

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16 thoughts on “The Great Subject Battle

  1. I agree wholeheartedly. From my point of view, as an American, I always felt like the U.K. had a stronger appreciation for the arts than the U.S., so it’s at the same time a little depressing to hear these problems are pretty much universal in most countries, yet refreshing to know there are plenty more people out there doing what they can to change it. I graduated a year ago with a degree in both Art History and English and share your worries (and hopes) for the arts. When I was still a student and had to answer the horrid “what do you study?” question, I would get the “oh, so you’re majoring in not getting a job??” response. You know what? I landed a job in non-profit organization within 4 months of graduating! And I started my blog in the hopes I could one day change that mindset. I’m glad I have a co-conspirator across the pond. Keep it up!

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    • I think it is a problem the whole world faces simply because people all see power, status and money as criterias of success and to achieve successc they see maths and science as the only way forward.
      Your degree sounds interesting! ๐Ÿ™‚ I will be doing English Language and literature this year.
      Woohoo! You tell those arts haters! ๐Ÿ™‚ Haha so am I. Thanks and you too! ๐Ÿ™‚

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      • Best wishes! Do everything possible to enjoy school while you’re there. I saw your posts about tuition and trust me, I get it. I’m neck deep in student loans that I’m now starting to pay back but my experience was worth every penny- in class and out of it. The true worth of higher education is what valuable lessons and memories you take away from it.

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  2. You certainly have it right! This post struck me for a few reasons. I was an English literature major, and I loved every second of it! Although I feel now that it was exactly what I should be doing, it never crossed my mind to major in it. I began college as a Business Marketing major because I never really associated English with making a living. When I switched majors (it didn’t take long) I gained such enrichment in my life as cannot be summed up briefly. My family’s reaction was more of a “Duh, that makes sense.” My dad, however, had a “So basically you want to be poor and spend thousands of dollars to read?” reaction. He would’ve preferred I torment myself with nursing although I had no interest in it whatsoever. I could do without the student loans that I’ll be paying off probably through to retirement! But to me, there’s no other subject I’d rather toss my money into. Love my English majors!

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    • Awesome! ๐Ÿ˜€ It is definitely far better to do.something you enjoy and it’s not like us English students have to end up being poor! My dad was just the same but I like to think I have tamed him now…

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  3. I almost went into nursing because that’s what my dad thought I should do but I never got into the program (luckily I can’t imagine how much I would have hated it) and then decided to go into a program I was really interested in, so I ended up in journalism against my parents wishes. They are changing their mind now because I’m successful at it. They started to calm down once I ended up directing a local TV show last year and making money writing.

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    • Lucky you! Do you think their reluctance was because of a lack of information about journalism and its potential? For example, they may know more people who have gone into nursing than journalism so in a way, was it a fear of the unknown or just about future wages?

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  4. It was about fear of wages, but only because it was unknown. They thought newspapers were my only job option and they were dying. Now they see I have a lot more job potential than they ever thought possible. It helps I am supporting myself with a job in my field now so they really can’t complain.

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  5. I agree so much!!! Part of the problem is that we live in a capitalist country and there’s increasingly more worth put on activities that will make money. I see the value in some people focusing on maths and science but it would be a shitty world to live in if there was no art

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  6. Though leaving secondary school has let me defected from all humanities and arts, I none the less agree. It isn’t so much the inherent worth of subjects, but particularly on the point of promises of wealth and riches. That education in the maths in sciences will bestow you a lifetime of gratification. I reject this being my motivation.

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  7. I studied sociology and writing and ended up being an ecologist. I think enjoying the subject you study is the most important thing not studying something just because it might lead to a well paid job someday

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