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Why we need to study the humanities

Everyone is impressed by Salvador Dali and Henri Matisse. The prose of George Orwell and Virginia Woolf are undoubtedly genius. But what was it about what they illustrated that made it so moving? Art is more than expensive, pretty colors and books are more than information carrying institutional self-worth. This might sound base, but in the current age of art, due to a few vocal opinions and books published due to statistical demands, it is easy to forget the inherent values of an education in the Humanities. I’ve had many morning lectures during which they talked of the past objectively. Where things had been painted, written and photographed is taken at contextual face value rather than taking into account the effects that these things have on people. What is often passed over is why it is that we need the humanities in order not just to think but to be.

Instrumentally it is easy to question the value of answering questions like the one above. Jokingly or otherwise many have the opinion that the knowledge learned from humanities courses are for teachers or socialites who like to sound smart. After all, who else would you talk to about Orwell’s 1984 and its social and political commentary other than those who have read, studied it, or plan to teach it? Studying these things is not about the book or the painting as it is but rather about the human experience within it. That is where we can find commonality and converse about our current state as a whole species. The value is apparent once you allow yourself to be curious and understand the weight that the minds before you carry. The humanities as stated in the name are about us, about people and what we are and can be.

“So what? I need a 401K and currency and I can’t write this in a resume under experience” said the hard working, future minded, educated teen or twenty-something. To this I say you are correct, you cannot reason to the CEO or Executive reading your laminated resume to view your education as such. Not when there are countless others with your undergraduate or graduate degree with more internship hours or who come from big name colleges who specialize in the field you sought after. It’s a competitive job market out there and I will not say otherwise.

But what about you? Forget for a moment what you must do, forget about the next five or even three years. What is it that you would like to know, to experience and see? It can be one or many, complex or simple. Let yourself be consumed by your curiosity, even if it’s for a short while. Read up on it, know what about it fits your unique interest and hobbies. Write about it to yourself or others, share to the world your opinions and findings bravely and enthusiastically. Spread your net or knowledge as you continue to learn about what you have let drive you. You might find your curiosity is your passion. At that point you won’t have to sell your worth, you know it, it is ingrained in the hours you’ve put in.

When asked about the relevance of your education and qualifications to a certain occupation you’ll know of its implications. The limitations of a certain education are only present when they are chosen to exist. When limitations are accepted as just that rather than expanded upon. Art and Language and History, if that is what drives your mind to want more out of education keep letting it drive you. Accounting and Business degrees and fields related to the hard sciences have their place but they are not the only path to a successful future or occupation. The world is always in need of artists or those who can articulate the many facets of being human and implicate it to the daily goings of a nine to five. If you choose, you can be more than one thing, you can enjoy what you do.

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