ARTS OR SCIENCE?
Intelligent young people want to go to university, and it is logical for a country to provide university places for them to ensure that there will be well-trained men and women to run the government and industry in the future. So in the 1960’s the government set up a number of new universities in Britain in order to give everyone with sufficient ability the opportunity to study. But now something has gone wrong. A lot of young people want to go to university to study arts subjects but many places for scientists are not taken up.
The new universities concentrated on science because it seemed practical. They developed new courses because they didn’t want to imitate traditional universities. In other words, they didn’t want to be like traditional universities. Why have their calculations proved wrong? One reason is that a lot of young people can get enough qualifications to work in industry by going to a Polytechnic.They think university courses are too long and too theoretical. But this does not explain why the majority of students still prefer arts subjects to science subjects.
A few months ago a magazine sent a team of interviewers to schools to find out why children didn’t want to study science. Their answers provided this surprising picture of a typical scientist: He is rather dull . He spends all day in a laboratory wearing a white coat. He doesn’t talk about anything but science. He doesn’t play games well, and he isn’t attractive to girls! In contrast , the arts graduate is seen as a much more lively person. He has a good sense of humour and he is interested in sports and pop music. He has a lot of girlfriends and always has a good time! Logically, the children wanted to study arts to avoid becoming dull, unattractive scientists.
Of course, the children were not describing all scientists; they were really giving us their opinion of their science teachers and comparing them with their arts teachers, such as the English teacher and the history teacher. But why do science teachers seem less attractive to them than arts teachers? The answer to this question probably explains why so many science places at the new universities are empty.
Our conclusion is that society offers good scientists well-paid jobs and the opportunity to use their studies in research laboratories or in industry and so they can lead rewarding and interesting lives. In general, only the less adventurous ones return to school to teach. But a bright graduate in literature or history must either teach his subject to earn a living, or work in a completely different field. So arts teachers are likely to be more interesting, attractive people than science teachers.