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Lack of understanding among STEM and Humanities majors shouldn’t lead to conflict

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What are the true differences between STEM and Humanities?

What are the true differences between STEM and Humanities?

What are the true differences between STEM and Humanities?

Madi Cotton

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What’s the real difference between STEM and Humanities majors? Obviously, the main difference is what you’re studying, but other than that? We’re all stressed, we all cry during finals week and find ourselves having mini mental breakdowns every day.

As a Creative Writing major with plenty of Bio-Chem friends, I don’t find myself having this discussion with them as much as I thought I would when I first got to college. Of course, there will always be little comments here and there, but the real disagreements come from our parents’ and grandparents’ generations.

Take it from someone with two doctors and a retired nurse in their immediate family, the disapproval mostly come from them when I mention my major or my passion for writing.

Though I did want to be a doctor when I was younger, I soon realized that my passion wasn’t to be a doctor or any other career path I was considering to be fair. I just liked imagining myself in the most dramatic situations and writing about them, which resulted in my love of writing.

But why do people look down on those with more creative careers in mind in the first place? We all enjoy films, books and music; as consumers there is so much in the world that we love simply for bringing us joy, so why don’t we love the content creators as equally as their work?

Many believe that Humanities majors don’t work as hard as those in STEM. At face value, that could be true. In STEM, the goal is to understand foreign concepts, understand the toughest theories, the rules of the world and the work leading up to a possible solution. Failing to understand means failure overall.

In the Humanities, what we learn is not centered around concepts unfamiliar to us as humans. In literature classes, analysis is based around things we all experience, such as human emotion and interaction. Writers and literature majors try and understand why an author feels the way they do and why their specific tone and diction work to portray that message. History majors try and understand how past decisions created the world we live in today. None of these things are foreign to us, we all experience the thoughts and emotions that make people human.

Herein lies the issue.

These two types of learning create different types of work. In STEM, understanding takes repetition. All the webassigns, labs and SI sessions are beyond frustrating if at the end of it all, you still don’t understand. There is rarely more than one right answer and they’re typically undisputed.

In Humanities, however, there is rarely a correct way to do things, and it’s up to whoever is reading the information to figure out what they believe in and to prove it. This requires reading, discussing, writing, editing, fact-checking, etc. There will always be someone with an entirely different viewpoint ready to dispute and argue, It takes courage to put yourself out there the way Humanities majors do.

Like most disagreements, it comes from a lack of understanding and, just like almost every misunderstanding, the best way to resolve the issue is to open a dialogue. Instead of arguing over who works the hardest, let’s find ways to respect each other’s hard work and avoid undermining one another simply because we don’t understand.

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Lack of understanding among STEM and Humanities majors shouldn’t lead to conflict