Many will know that recently Education Secretary Nicky Morgan released a statement expressing the idea that subjects more orientated on factual knowledge, science and maths (or the ‘STEM’ subjects as the government refers to them), are more likely to open doors for teenagers than humanities and arts.
I, as an English student, am not only offended by this statement, but find it absolutely ludicrous that such a statement has been said so publicly. Suggesting something like this is not only going to derail an aspiring humanity pupil’s self-confidence and motivation, but students like myself, already taking a humanity at degree level, will be offended.
Miss Morgan said:
“If you didn’t know what you wanted to do… then the arts and the humanities were what you chose because they were useful, we were told, for all kinds of jobs. We now know that this couldn’t be further from the truth. That the subjects to keep young people’s options open are STEM subjects – science, technology, engineering and maths.”
She then continues, saying: “The UK needs to recruit 83, 000 engineers a year over the next 10 years to compete economically”
Now, wait a second. She’s saying that these STEM subjects apparently open doors. It looks as though, if you’re studying maths and physics, your careers have already been set out for you. One may think that Miss Morgan is actually saying that these STEM subjects will guarantee you a job as an engineer to help further our economy. Let’s also look at her campaign, ‘Your Life’: the objectives are not only to increase the number of people taking A-levels in maths and physics in the next 3 years, but also to encourage the brighter students to become science teachers. Is this just Miss Morgan laying out your future for you again? One may question that this is just an attempt to brainwash the teenagers of this generation, scaring them with this idea of redundancy at the age of 15. And let me say, this is not the only statement that may lead one to question the reliability of her argument.
Miss Morgan provokes further:
“Because the skills gained from studying these subjects will come in useful in almost any job you care to mention; from the creative and beauty industries to architecture.”
Is she saying that humanities and arts do not have skills that will come in handy in any job? Because I can quite easily suggest that that is very untrue. I believe that humanities and arts probably allow someone to develop more skills than studying these STEM subjects: being able to speak publicly, express your opinion clearly and be confident in debate.
“creativity and innovation needs to be at the heart of any thriving and forward looking organisation.”Matt Hunter
Surely one of the most important skills is to work well with others, which, I assume, is less developed in a subject like Maths. This is a skill that is needed working for a large business or accounting firm, not to mention the obvious occupations for humanity subjects, which are law and journalism. In fact Matt Hunter, for the Telegraph, has recently written an article on how important the creative art degrees are to businesses. He says:
“…there is mounting evidence that it is the uniqueness of a creative arts or design degree which is proving so attractive to employees.” And he follows, answering why this is the case, stating “creativity and innovation needs to be at the heart of any thriving and forward looking organisation.”
A final comment I will quote from Hunter, that further negates Miss Morgan’s argument that arts have limited career prospects, is when he states:
“The Government is also putting strong support behind the industry, recognising the substantial impact the sector currently makes, the future opportunities for growth and the job prospects that will go with it.”
This final line clearly gives evidence that Miss Morgan may be slightly incorrect in her controversial declaration and may need to consider the benefits of humanities and arts before completely ruling them out.
Now don’t get me wrong, I believe that the STEM subjects are important and offer various skills that the humanities and arts don’t offer, and clearly more engineers are needed. However, I don’t believe in making sweeping generalisations that attempt to brainwash people, stopping them from doing the subjects they enjoy. Also, let’s face it, it is very likely that with the right motivation and determination, combined with the passion for the subject you have, you are very likely to end up in a job you enjoy related to that subject – it could be argued that various ‘open doors’ are not even necessary.