“You can just tell when someone is from the Arts faculty,” a science student commented.
“What do you mean by that?”
“I don’t know. errrrr. I guess you guys are just very opinionated and think very differently?”
Contemporary Singapore society, albeit gradual shifts in perspective, still value a Science/Math education over the Arts– entrenched by State emphasis on the sciences early on its in education reform. This could perhaps account for the number of perplexed faces I’ve witnessed as a result of my telling them that I’m pursuing a degree in arts. “Oh cool. So you can draw very well?” they would respond. Sure… let’s just go with that.
But for those who actually do realise that I am generally referring to the Humanities and Social Sciences, usually respond with a curious amalgam of incredulity and scepticism. They can’t seem to rationalise the purpose of an Arts education vis-à-vis an actual career trajectory. Follow up questions, along the lines of “What are you planning to do after that?” usually ensue. The general implied consensus is that my degree is of little value– and by extension; my intellect.
Ironically, the Arts faculty is by far the largest in NUS, with an intake of around 1200 undergrads per year. Critics reconcile this paradox by subscribing to the perception that the faculty is a ‘dumping-ground’ for those who could not secure places in science-related faculties (subsuming a considerable population of undergrads, like me, who willingly chose the Arts). Alas, this perpetuates the notion that the Arts kids are just not ‘smart’ enough.
Now that I have established the context within which my education is being perceived by others –although I admit that these are my sole interpretation of general sentiments and are, thus, open to my bias/overstatements– I shall present a non-exhaustive list of reasons as to why my education is ‘ruining’ me. Continue reading