In school, no matter what age or grade, the curriculum was always biased. Any money the school got was openly directed at science and math departments, leaving the English department to tape together its books in vain. Too often, people asked me why I didn't want to be a doctor or scientist or pharmacist. They would furrow their brows at me and wonder if I ever wanted to make money in my life. People around me were trained to believe that if they wanted to live a comfortable life, they had to pursue and math or science related career, completely disregarding their own interests. This is what STEM has done.
I have deep respect for STEM studies and careers; its students are making medical advances that save lives, and they are engineering a better world. But what is becoming increasingly obvious is that the world is turning its back on what humanity has valued for centuries: the written word, the value of communication, the importance of culture, how interpreting the human experience can change outlooks on life...the list goes on. These are the humanities and the arts. Prospective college students have been shown statistics that depict liberal arts careers as destitute, unfulfilling, and not as important as the STEM studies that dominate every campus. Unfortunately, society has placed its emphasis on these paths, deeming them as more important and worth more pay, when in reality, you wouldn't know about medical advances if journalists weren't writing about it.
The importance of STEM is obvious, but the problem is that it's been marketed to kids as the only successful career path. In reality, science and math careers are just as important as those in the humanities. They impact society in different ways, and one really cannot exist without the other. How can scientific ideas be communicated and applied without a whole understanding of the world in which they will impact? The truth is that not everything in the human experience can be quantified; not everything is a precise number or a problem to be solved.
Subjects in the liberal arts, such as philosophy, literature, and art, are lacking the instant gratification that the Information Age has instilled in youth. People now struggle with not having the answer in less than a second, and the humanities are slower studies. However, these are the studies that teach us how to be human. Calculus cannot teach us morality. The sciences cannot teach us how to put ourselves in someone else's shoes and try to understand their point of view as it differs from our own.
As the United States seeks to remain competitive in scientific industries, we must acknowledge that to be a true competitor, our students should be encouraged to broaden all of their horizons. After all, is being an educated person simply just studying for a job, or is it opening yourself up to new ideas and expanding your breadth of knowledge?