Myths vs Reality: Busting 5 myths about Humanities


In this article, our young interns Shreya Mishra and Samhita Madhunapanthula share important points about how few myths have affected Humanities education the world over.

‘Oh, you are taking Humanities?’ ‘Will you even get a job?’ ‘What is there to study?’

These are some common sentences that we keep hearing when someone wants to pursue Humanities. Myths such as these have clouded our perception of many subjects. These myths developed over time due to the lack of awareness and understanding of the value of applying the knowledge gained from Humanities in solving various problems. 

After 34 years, India has taken a step to go along with the change, by revising the National Education Policy. This is proof of our willingness to change. This change has already begun, as we see many single-stream colleges including subjects from Humanities.

However, for Humanities to get the respect it deserves in our society, we need to bust a few myths that bring out the relevance of the discipline today.

1. Myth: Students who are not serious choose this stream 

Reality: Students who choose Engineering, Science, or Commerce streams are labeled ‘serious’ or ‘studious’. Whereas students who choose humanities are labeled as ‘not serious’, ‘rebels’, or ‘don’t know what to do’. 

Due to this mindset, many who do believe that this stream can be made through without any effort may not end up doing very well. If you are good at studying it is seen as a waste of ‘talent’ on humanities. With this notion, those who are truly passionate and capable feel inhibited to take a step into this stream. 

However, we can now see many who score extremely well are actively involved with these subjects. They are successful in diverse fields in the job market, which is self-explanatory in proving how this myth isn’t true.  

2. Myth: Humanities do not contribute to the world of work

Reality: Contrary to popular belief, Humanities contributes to almost every domain. Most employers now are hiring people with humanities backgrounds, as they have better interpersonal skills, are more empathetic, and are critical and creative thinkers. These skills have been unanimously agreed to be the ‘essential employability skills’.

These essential skills are what help in the development and they truly contribute to many aspects of the workplace. For example, engineers and innovators solve our problems using technology; if they approach the problem using various disciplines like economics, history, communication, etc, they will be in a better position to design the solution that helps humankind.

Busting 5 myths about Humanities3. Myth: Humanities is an easy stream

Reality: Obtaining a Humanities degree is as challenging as obtaining any other degree. Any stream requires a different skillset and thought process. Comparing streams based on which is easier or harder is not helpful as this concept is very relative. Someone who finds the arts ‘easy’ can also find maths easy’. In the end, it all comes down to interest and passion. 

Students from all fields are asked to do a certain amount of reading, most streams involve putting together different kinds of information and understanding. Yet as a humanities student, you are also required to interpret, question, debate, and research for every topic. 

4. Myth: Teaching is the only profession after a humanities degree

Reality: Employers these days are looking for people with skills that are taught in a humanities degree. They are interpersonal skills, teamwork, critical and creative thinking, and analytical abilities. They make the individual flexible who can be employed in various fields with their skills, and not just the jobs directly related to their degree. 

For example, a philosophy majors’ communication skills may be the employer’s primary choice compared to the engineering major who’s applying for the same job.

However, a few jobs that are directly related to humanities are:

International relations, Linguist, Human Resources Specialist, Foreign Correspondent, Technical Writer, Advertising Sales Agent, Journalist, Genealogist, Interpreter, Editor, Lawyer, Public Relations Manager, Counselling.

5. Myth: You need an inborn talent to be good at these subjects

Reality: Can you study and analyze literature as I do?”

“No…It’s not my thing”

“Well, the same is with me for Math”

Yet, sadly, the English Major is still looked down on, though both of them have their own unique skills that contribute to developing differently. This myth originates from the idea that the STEM subjects require practice, yet the Humanities are something that one should naturally be good at. Though being naturally good at something plays a role in both the fields to a certain extent, the concept of experiencing, practicing, and enhancing one’s abilities far outweighs this concept. In both these fields, one can become confident and capable after receiving training and putting effort into their abilities. 

After recognizing the contribution of the Arts and Humanities, our government is focusing on encouraging students to pursue this stream. To achieve this change and to bust the myths, India has started including these subjects in courses and started to give more importance at the school level.

Courses are now being designed in a way that combines subjects from the Humanities and STEM alike. Liberal arts is gaining more recognition. Students are given the chance to choose from various career options. 

We are finally moving towards an education system that produces youth who are able to make a change. 

Related Article: How Humanities help in youth engagement for local, national, and global action – Read More:

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  1. Pingback: Here’s why technology-driven world needs humanities

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