Boundaries in Education are Becoming Too Defining
BY ANUSHA SENAPATI '24
Over time, the division between STEM and humanities has widened. At AB, science and history classes are located on opposite ends of the school—a polarization that mirrors the larger academic realm. The distinction between humanities and STEM subjects creates a strict binary; this compartmentalization often discourages students from following their true passion, especially those who take interest in both disciplines. These boundaries also limit creativity, which plays a key role in solving important world issues. Given these disadvantages, why does the distinction between STEM and humanities grow more profound each day?
Students often categorize themselves as STEM or humanities people. High school seniors can replace humanities classes for science classes or vice versa while still meeting graduation requirements; this is a trend across schools that only require three years of humanities courses. The idea of being better at one discipline than another pushes students to compartmentalize, or “box” themselves into one academic pathway. Though this compartmentalization may seem beneficial for those with clear post-secondary plans, the dilemma of having to choose between humanities and STEM is often daunting for students who have not determined their passions.
Indeed, the “boxing” of a student in a certain academic field can obstruct the student from pursuing a new interest and developing a passion for it. These mental boundaries then curb students’ potential, as they feel reluctant to try different subjects. In college, students separate into even smaller categories as they choose their major. While encouraging depth in a subject, this system may deter students from interdisciplinary opportunities, such as STEM and arts hybrid projects. Often, interdisciplinary projects broaden students’ perspectives which is essential for gaining awareness of societal problems and inciting more effective change. Consequently, the entire idea of having to choose one discipline over another can be deleterious to students in the long run.
In an attempt to increase interdisciplinary connections, ABRHS has taken action. With American studies—two courses that intertwine history and English—students can engage with and explore the intersection between both subjects. Furthermore, the Explorations in Visual Arts and Sciences (EVAS) elective combines STEM and arts through crafting research using artistic tools. According to one EVAS student, the course has been “a refreshing experience and break from regular classes.” This “break” allows students to more freely explore their passions and meld different interests together in one class.
Moving forward, it is important that our community and broader society encourages innovative learning. Whether changing the curriculum or offering students opportunities to delve into different subject areas, deconstructing this boundary is crucial: it expands students’ understanding of the surrounding world and allows them to discover their true passions. After all, there’s no one correct path in education.