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To think that the sciences are taken more seriously than the arts?

(84 Posts)
toptramp Wed 12-Oct-11 21:50:41

I did love science at school. Well Chemistry and Biology but my maths was shite so decided to drop Chemistry at a-level and took Biology a language and English. I now have a degree in the arts but I think I would be taken more seriously and earn more if I had stuck with Chemistry a-level and got a science degree instead. I do love Biology but I love my degree subject so much taht I'm glad I did it.

I guess scientists and related professions do a great service to humanity(generally but not always) so they should be rewarded. But the world would be a poorer place without the arts.

sillybillies Wed 12-Oct-11 21:53:22

Perhaps they are, but I agree that the world would be a poorer place without the arts. If you loved your degree, then you made the right choice.

EllaDee Wed 12-Oct-11 22:03:44

I think people can be belittling on both sides of the aisle. But since I'm an arts student, I notice the anti-arts attitude more. I do think a lot of people assume that any idiot can sit around reading books (English) or learning dates (history), and don't realize there might be a bit more to it than that! grin

My dad is a scientist and drives me up the wall with his complete faith in his own ability to 'help' me with my studies ... despite the fact he has a long out-of-date B in English and I'm doing a PhD. And if I had a quid for every time someone says 'but how can you do a PhD in English, doesn't it have to be original research and you can't do that by reading books', well, I'd be as well-funded as a science student! grin

Mind you, I think scientists get a raw deal with the 'mad scientist' stereotype and the idea that you can't be cultured and a scientist - which is rubbish!

Fixture Wed 12-Oct-11 22:06:17


worraliberty Wed 12-Oct-11 22:06:26

I agree the world would be a poorer place without the Arts but I have to admit, I always think degrees in it sound a bit namby pamby blush

I'm sure they're not, but saying "I have a degree in Science" just somehow sounds like it was harder to gain.

kakapo Wed 12-Oct-11 22:06:59

scientist here... i think the arts get a rough deal, like you say. but i get people assuming i am completely useless at anything practical. despite managing to move myself around the world god knows how many times wink

peggotty Wed 12-Oct-11 22:12:03

YANBU. I think it's the age-old assumption that science is fact-based and therefore rational and 'useful', whereas the Arts are seen as emotion-based, irrational and subjective. I think it's a case of never the twain shall meet but the world would be poorer if either of them were to disappear in a puff of smoke.

Tchootnika Wed 12-Oct-11 22:16:39

Of course sciences are taken more seriously than the arts - it's all about the 'hot air balloon principle' (or whatever it's called), isn't it? The idea that scientists are essential to us whereas artists are dispensable...
Science and language degrees are generally recognised as being more difficult that arts degrees, and probably for good reason.
There was an ES column the other day about unpaid internships and how normal they now are in e.g. media. The writer suggested that there are now 'real' jobs (engineering, medicine, etc.) and 'hobby' jobs (journalism, arts...) - all sounds pretty dire, but given that arts have been seen as more glamorous by so many young people, perhaps this is the natural payoff for hardworking, unglamorous scientists.

MillyR Wed 12-Oct-11 22:24:54

I think it depends on the context, OP. If you want to work in an arts based job then your arts degree will gain more respect than a science degree.

I would say that in general that the arts are taken more seriously in every day life. If you are a reasonably educated person, it is seen as a social and intellectual failing to not have some knowledge of and interest in society, other cultures, painting, music, media and literature. Yet it is not seen as a social failing to have almost no knowledge of Science. That is reflected in the school curriculum where far more time is given to social sciences and arts than to science.

EllaDee Wed 12-Oct-11 22:32:45

I think maths loses out in that sense too, Milly - so many people are quite proud of being 'bad at numbers' who would be deeply ashamed to admit they were illiterate. But Maths is an Art, obviously.

jaggededge Wed 12-Oct-11 22:34:16

I did a science degree when I first left school and later returned to education to do an arts degree. I have never used my science degree, although I definitely use the analytical/organisational skills I learnt, continually throughout my life.

People do take me more seriously when they find out I'm a science graduate and that makes me glad that I chose that as a degree, although I now work in the arts. I certainly found the academic material much more rigorous and challenging in the science degree (although other factors were at play too - I studied science at a Russell Group uni as a teenager, did arts degree at former poly as a mature student). I have to admit that I used to be hmm when my arts tutors would talk about evidence and arguments though - it was all so much more wishy-washy than the hard proofs of science.

EllaDee Wed 12-Oct-11 22:38:19

'the hard proofs of science'



chicletteeth Wed 12-Oct-11 22:39:00

My husband and I both have PhDs in engineering and science respectively and I am also medical doctor and I can say for sure, there is not enough in the way of arts in my life.
My eldest DS is so into drawing and sketching and is really good and I love that he loves doing it and will support him all the way.
You're right, generally speaking in my field people in the 'arts' are looked down upon and I think it's ridiculous quite frankly.

I am a budding potter, so you never know, I may well change careers grin

helpmabob Wed 12-Oct-11 22:40:35

I suspect the people who are disparaging of the arts never did them. I am also sure journalists (especially war correspondents), museum curators, writers, publishers etc would have a few of their well chosen words to say about their careers being hobbies. Because of course none of those types of people have contributed enormously to our world hmm

But I do agree EllaDee that maths is indeed an Art and endlessly fascinating when you reach very advanced levels.

MillyR Wed 12-Oct-11 22:43:33

Ella, I think some of the arts lose out from the arts/science divide too. Art (drawing, painting, sculpture etc) as a subject has become watered down because of the idea that it is all subjective and some people just happen to be good at it. As it is based on a lot of scientific and mathematical priniciples, the basic skills of it can be taught in that way. It is ignoring the acquisition of those skills that leads to so many people having no basic ability in arts and crafts. It is acceptable for people to say that they cannot draw in the same way that they say they are no good at numbers.

Peachy Wed 12-Oct-11 22:44:51

LOL EllaDee

My own degree is in World Religions; I suspect that you know, what with people ruling their lives with them and all that can lead to that it's not quite a hobby thing: not sure my MA to be in Autism is hobbyish really- who'd have autism as their hobby! I seem tp spend an awful lot of time reading 'proper' hard scientific research as well, genetics and the like.

Not sure it's that clear cut but it's certianly a debate we jokingly have in this house as DH is doing a BSc. It is a joke though as he knows the amount of stats and research I read..

MillyR Wed 12-Oct-11 22:47:35

Museum curators require knowledge of science as well as the arts. They often have degrees which cover both areas. They are, after all, responsible for both conservation workers (science based) and for making decisions about what scientific research can be carried out on their collections.

helpmabob Wed 12-Oct-11 22:48:16

MillyR I agree with you but I also think it is true that science can lose out as well. They complement one another. Indeed I am considering teaching myself some basic physics and investigating philisophical mathematics as I feel there is so much more I want to access. But I would never disparage my Arts education, it has been invaluable

helpmabob Wed 12-Oct-11 22:50:26

Curators represent just one of several careers in the Artsand I am sure you are right that science is necessary too but they also require a somewhat detailed historica or Art background. I see no sense in saying one is better than the other, both are invaluable to life.

MillyR Wed 12-Oct-11 22:51:53

Yes, I think we are all pretty much in agreement! We need both of them.

EllaDee Wed 12-Oct-11 22:52:57

I think interdisciplinary stuff is really fascinating and increasingly important (or seems to be from what people say about where new research happens). Maybe in the next generation or so we won't think about Arts vs Sciences so much?

I get the impression it is much commoner than it used to be to study combinations off arts and sciences at A level with the new system - anyone know if that is true?

Peachy Wed 12-Oct-11 22:59:21

Seems to be Ella.

Also worth remembering that whether a degreee has an A, Sc or even Ed suffix can be separate from degree content: my MA almost had an Ed label because it was easier to assign management to the Head of Dept in the same building, it took a determined Course Leader to go to war on that one: we also did modules in research methodology and stats last term, which is cross-boundary.

Whereas DH's degree will be BSc but elsewhere is a BA with little real change and has quite a significant creative component.

TrenteSix Wed 12-Oct-11 23:05:48

Science moves the world forward, and the arts make it a little bit nicer.
I think it is absolutely fair that science gets more attention: many of us wouldn't be here but for "science" of one kind or another. I don't feel that about a painting or an embroidered tent.

Peachy Wed 12-Oct-11 23:07:54

I don' t somehow think all arts subjects at university are wuite that Trente! No painted tents in my MA Autism. More complex genetics and brain physiology. Although that is my twist on it: others aim it more towards education or counselling as suits their background.

ChickenLickn Wed 12-Oct-11 23:10:40

I like both the arts and sciences, but felt that science was something that was best to learn in university, whereas the arts I could dip into a book/museum etc.

Science is certainly more useful in terms of applications in everyday life (ie, everywhere), and knowledge of the arts puts everything into context in terms of life, relationships, being human.

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