There’s a tweet that’s gone viral, about a teacher dissing students from the Humanities and Social Sciences (HUMSS) track during a review class.
This isn’t a new trend. Institutions, corporations and even families have looked down on the liberal arts and social sciences courses for years. Teachers think there’s no point in pursuing liberal arts other than that it’s a prerequisite to law school. Parents argue that there are no viable careers for humanities majors. Even friends don’t get the point of learning history.
As an HUMSS student, I’ve personally heard of such views. “Anong gagawin mo sa HUMSS? Maging politiko? (What are you going to do
in HUMSS? Become a politician?)”
“Isn’t being in HUMSS easy, since you don’t deal with science or math?” My favorite: “How will you make money from liberal arts? Better to become a doctor or be in business … ”
Let’s start with the basics. HUMSS stands for “Humanities and Social Sciences,” which means it covers not just political science but literature, anthropology, philosophy, linguistics, communication and psychology. Studying HUMSS doesn’t automatically mean you plan
on becoming a politician or lawyer; you can also be a writer, a counselor or even a broadcaster.
The assumption that every HUMSS student will end up a politician is like assuming that every student who takes up a course in STEM
(Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) is going to medical school. This mentality is limiting because there is a world of opportunities waiting for students, regardless of their course, after graduation.
Next, if you think being a HUMSS student is easy because there’s little to no math or science involved, you need a reality check. Teachers will load you with readings and handouts like there’s no tomorrow.
Sure, you might be spared from taking several math subjects, but there’s no escaping the copious amount of reading, writing and research in HUMSS. The perception that HUMSS students are good at dealing with people or arguing their case is just that—a perception.
Because humanities and social sciences cover a broad field of interests, the students who are enrolled in their courses are a mix of people— from debaters to Shakespeare fans, writers to aspiring filmmakers, outspoken activists to people who just want to understand
These different personalities are what give the humanities and social sciences their color and vibrancy; thus, not everyone is necessarily “good with people” or “argumentative.”
The most common, and probably the most annoying view, is that studying liberal arts means you’ll end up poor: “Happiness and passion won’t buy you a meal.”
I hate that statement because I believe happiness and passion, for as long as you utilize them well, can actually buy you a meal—and more.
Happiness and passion
If a doctor’s happiness and passion is treating children, and he happens to earn well from his practice, then why should it be any different for those in the HUMSS fields? Just because graduates of these courses do not work in conventional settings doesn’t mean they’re not enjoying well-paying jobs.
I grew up surrounded by lawyers; not only did they earn well, they were also happy because they loved what they were doing. If you love what you do, you will find a way to sustain yourself.
“Dead Poets Society” is one of myfavorite films; in it, the inspiring English teacher John Keating (played by Robin Williams) said a
line that explains the value of HUMSS and other “unconventional disciplines.” It’s probably one of the most quoted lines in the film, and it’s a mantra I personally live by, a line that I know has given many people reason to love the liberal arts even more.
“We don’t read and write poetry because it’s cute,” said Keating. “We read and write poetry because we are members of
the human race. And the human race is filled with passion. And medicine, law, business, engineering, these are noble pursuits
and necessary to sustain life. But poetry, beauty, romance, love, these are what we stay alive for.”