The humanities are just as important as STEM

Addison Etnier, Staff Writer

We live in a world where society places a greater emphasis and importance on STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) than the humanities (English, foreign languages, art, theatre, political science, etc.). If a student tells others that they are going to be an art or English major, responses are typically along the lines of “how will you get a job?” While the nature of jobs for the arts are different than STEM jobs, they are just as common. Other humanities are more practical than they are often given credit for. Teachers, historians, psychologists, linguists and other such jobs are all part of the humanities, and they are vital to our society.

I am going to be an animation major in college starting in the fall; however, I spent my entire high school career taking classes I felt were unneeded such as chemistry and trigonometry. The only time I needed and will need these skills was for taking the ACT. I did enjoy taking biology, but the class is not vital for my future. Similarly, my sister will be studying psychology, yet the majority of her free time in high school is dedicated to her trig homework. She is in accelerated math as a sophomore and suffers for it, because she has to meet a certain number of credits, regardless of the level of her classes or her further studies. These classes are required for every student regardless of what field they are going into. Humanities classes are not. Yet, the school is filled with plenty of creative students. The choir and band departments dominate student social lives, and the drama and art departments also show a lot of creative students.

Classes are set up like this most likely to fulfill college requirements. However, when students hit the seventh/eighth grade period where they begin planning their future classes, they do not truly realize the scope of their decisions. I had been used to taking accelerated classes, so the idea of not taking an advanced class was not a reality to me. What I did not realize was that the classes I would take my last two years would be above the level I was comfortable at because I had to meet the credit requirement regardless of the difficulty of the class. Students would benefit from in-depth discussion on these topics before they select their classes, so they could save themselves stress in the future.

Language arts teacher Kristen Gidel understands the practicality of the humanities in the real world. “Even in the business world, [my husband] needs to understand content information that I don’t know,” Gidel said. “…But it’s so funny the way that he works and the things that he processes on a day-to-day basis…is basically reading and writing and communication. You know, all the things that we do in language arts.”

There is no denying that STEM is vital to our society; we could not function without it. However, the arts and humanities give us comfort and the freedom to express ourselves. Emma Erdoes ‘21 will be going into politics (an important part of the humanities), but she also sees the arts as being personally vital.

The arts give people a unique access to expressing themselves. “[Sports are] definitely an outlet of expression…but [they don’t] give you a lot of ways to express things with words…” Erdoes said. “The arts…gives you the ability to express emotions as well… This song talks about how I’m sad, and I relate to that, and now I feel less alone in the world because somebody wrote that song and I’m singing it.”

When quarantine started back in April 2020, people turned to the arts, binging television, movies and video games for escapism; though many television shows were cut short due to the pandemic, fans were not without a plethora of new content. Popular releases that caused social media chatter were the final season of “Star Wars: The Clone Wars” on Disney+ and Disney’s movie release of “Hamilton” on Disney+. A major show was the resurgence of “Avatar: the Last Airbender’s” popularity after it was added to Netflix, with old fans finding comfort in a favorite show and new fans discovering a new one. The video game “Animal Crossing: New Horizons” was also a hit that dominated social media.

There is no doubt that the arts are a crux to many, becoming essential in a time of great worldwide distress. Such creative content produces a comfort for their viewers, and social media response connected people online. Art trends and a plethora of fan art was seen on social media, and fan communities were able to grow in a lengthy period of time when there were no in-person connections. In this way art was vital during the pandemic; though the arts are often left in the back burner by society, there is no doubt that they are vital.

The humanities affect our culture every day. Erdoes used last year’s quarantine to further her understanding of the Black Lives Matter social movement, choosing to spend her time viewing films and reading books by Black creators and “incredible activists of color who use their platform…to educate through creation.”

Jenna Curry ‘21 is planning on going into music education. She also views music as a way to connect to her brother Ryan, who has autism. She said that one day after a performance, former choir and show choir director Samantha Robilliard spoke to Curry about her brother. “I think your brother was just really connecting with the music,” Curry recalled Robilliard telling her.

The humanities are practical and used all the time by everyone. Yet, they are seen as less than by society. In times of emotional distress, people turn to the arts. The humanities connect people and make them more…well, human.