I grew up in a mostly STEM oriented family. My dad has his doctorate in abstract mathematics, my mom works in medicine, and my younger sister looks like she's going the math direction as well. My extended family, including aunts, uncles, and cousins, mostly went the way of business and social sciences, largely because one does in fact need a way to make a living, and that way usually involves more lucrative careers than those associated with literature and history.
STEM or not, my family still prized the humanities as I was going through school. My mother loved to read in childhood, and continues to do so, and my dad has a true fascination with history and knowing all the background to any situation. The humanities were important and interesting in my family, even if you weren't studying them. So it came as a shock to me to learn that, for a lot of people, this is not the case.
Not only do most people not care about classical literature, but they also find it... boring. A girl in one of my classes recently told me that, though she plans to become a lawyer, she is uninterested in American history (which is quite necessary in order to learn the very core of American law). In my public speaking class, we were told to contemplate topics on which to give an informative speech that we feel would be of interest to others. We were asked to share these with the people around us, and I found that no one wanted to hear about the life and influences of James Joyce or John Steinbeck. I was disappointed. Not only do people not want to seek out what they deem "useless" humanities related information, they're simply bored by it.
I have a couple of responses to this. Number one, it doesn't matter how "boring" I find computer science, I still plan to take a class on it willingly in order to improve my skillset. I might hate biology, but I'm forced to take a basic class in it in order to understand some fundamentals about the world. So there's that.
But in addition to all that, how depressing and horrifying is it to discover that our society has become so technologically focused, that we no longer care about books and history? The humanities are what makes us "human" so to speak. At its peak, every civilization is characterized by a burst in appreciation for the arts and humanities. Our civilization seems to be at a high point, so why are humanities less important than ever?
I believe that the reason lies in our arts and humanities education. I have never met someone who found a history class boring when it was taught by a brilliant teacher, and I am sure that reading books that relate more to students in English classes would change their view of what they deem to be "required reading books." Perhaps what we should worry about more than anything in our society today is why so many students feel that the humanities are nonessential to their growth and development. There was a time when every university dedicated its resources to teaching all the basic philosophy, art history, and classic literature to its masses of students. Why is that no longer a priority in this day and age?