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Just Study What You Love

Updated: Apr 28, 2019

The Arts and Humanities get a hard time from many who view them as soft subjects. And Nicky Morgan's comments this week definitely won't have helped.

On Tuesday The Stage Newspaper reported that our Education Secretary believes choosing the Arts and Humanities subjects in school permanently damages young people's career prospects. You can read the story here.

Now I could lay into Nicky Morgan straight off; I could spout off a list of transferable skills that studying English, History, Music and Art can give potential job candidates, not to mention the enjoyment many get from these subjects. But instead I'm going to use my powers of empathy and understanding, developed from my years studying English Literature and Drama (just saying), to see her point of view.

As these comments were made at the launch of a campaign to promote Maths, Science, Technology and Engineering subjects, it's reasonable to believe that Ms. Morgan intended to highlight the advantages of the Sciences rather than smear the Arts and Humanities. And it may well be the case that a majority of employers would value Maths and Science A Levels on a CV over History and Media Studies. I don't know the source of her statistics so I can't say.

But to say choosing the Arts and Humanities holds young people back "for the rest of their lives" is hideously misleading.

Again, I could list all the skills students gain that employers could use, but I really don't care. And maybe I should, because everyone else does. Or because caring would of made me more employable for a 9 to 5 desk job. But the reason I am angered by what Nicky Morgan said, and by everyone who slags off the arts as subjects, is because we were not put on this planet to work ourselves to death studying subjects and working in jobs that we hate.

We were put on this Earth to live our lives.

(Well, we weren't really put on this Earth. We arrived here by the power of infinite possibility and 'luck', for want of a better word. But that's by the by.)

What would happen if instead to educating to create employees, we educated to create adults who thought about and understand the world complexly?

Just a thought.

And if we are going to be worker bees, what about all the skills you don't learn solely from specific school subjects? Like being able to work with people; both clients and co-workers? Being able to network? Being able to apply existing knowledge to new situations? These are skills you get from life more than school.

And then there are those who have found love and meaning through the Arts, so much so they've chosen to make their living from it. And anyone who loves their subject, whatever it is, would never feel that it has held them back.

So maybe we should teach young people to find what they love and pursue it, rather than doing the "right" thing.

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