Monday, January 15, 2007

Sciences vs Humanities

Ah... a theme close to my heart, and certainly something of a surprise that I've not blogged about this earlier in the past 20 months since this blog was initiated!

The Star over the weekend, published a few articles, here and here with regards to the choice of Science versus Arts stream for students moving on to Form Four. As highlighted by Tiara, an enthusiastic proponent of the Humanities, the articles were a tad disappointing in that they conceded, or at least hinted at the superiority of the Sciences over the Arts. (Trust Tiara to be quick to the draw in responding to the reports ;))

Reading the articles, it's fairly clear that there is a strong societal bias towards the Science stream, practically indicating that students taking the humanities courses are of weaker intelligence.

A principal in Petaling Jaya highlighted that generally, "good students prefer to do Science as they find it more challenging compared to Arts." Another principal, Mary Wong, argued that (horrors!) "doing Science forces you to be more analytical and diligent."

To put it bluntly, that is such a load of rubbish.

Firstly to put things into perspective, I was a mixed Arts and Science student for my 'O' Levels i.e., I took Geography and English Literature, complemented by (pure) Physics and Chemistry, as well as both Mathematics subjects. For my 'A' Levels, I ditched Geography for History, and took on Economics and Mathematics. I did reasonably well for most of the subjects, with no distinct superiority of Arts or Science over one another (I'm not a straight 'A's student), with the exception of Mathematics, which I consistently aced. Hence I'd like to think that I have the necessary perspective to "comment" on this "which-is-better?-science-or-arts" debate.

There is no such thing as Sciences being more "analytical" than Humanities. They are all subjects which can (severely) test the human mind, and it's analytical levels are in fact only limited by the teachers, the teaching methodology as well as the students themselves.

In fact, contrarians such as Tiara might even argue that the Arts are clearly more analytical for the answers aren't carved in stone like the sciences whereby E=MC2. And because there are no concrete answers, students of Arts subjects are required to be more analytical to argue, substantiate and flesh out their case.

There is also a clear misconception that the Arts subjects are all about memorising facts.
Nesa Sivanesan, whose son completed his PMR recently, advised him to go into the Science stream. “I felt it was the path of least resistance as he fared better in subjects such as Mathematics, Science and languages. He hates History because he doesn’t like memorising dates.
My 'A' Levels history tutor, Mrs Sng would have flipped on such flippant remarks on her pet subject. History, contrary to popular perception, isn't so much about dates but about analysis of events. History, for example, is less about when Melaka is conquered, but more about why it has fallen and whether it was inevitable.

Again, it is possible to argue that Science and Mathematical subjects have their fair share of memory work, with all the biological terms, chemical names, physics and mathematical formulas.

In addition, a student who excels in Sciences may fare terribly in the Arts, and obviously vice versa. Hence, streaming should never be a matter of the superiority of the sciences over the arts, but instead be a question about the individual's aptitude.

The parental, school and peer pressure for top students to enrol into science courses despite a preference and aptitude in excelling in Arts subjects will only find misery when confronted with test tubes and dissected frogs. And such misery would certainly be detrimental towards the student achieving his or her own potentials. It is unfortunately not helped by the fact that poorly performing students are automatically 'relegated' to Arts courses, giving the wrong impression that such courses are only suitable for weaker students.

In fact, I would argue that all students, in which ever streams should have compulsory subjects from other streams to shape more rounded individuals for the subjects would test a persons different faculties. In Singapore, even my school mates in a Pure Science stream taking Physics, Chemistry and Biology would have to take English Literature as one of the compulsory subjects. On the other hand, all Arts students will have to take a "combined science" paper to have a better understanding of the sciences.

I would certainly encourage the Ministry of Education or the relevant schools to offer the "in-between" streams where students get a good mix of the pure sciences as well as the Arts subjects. I for one, who would not have survived biology (I will probably throw up or faint, if I ever had to dissect a living being), benefited immensely from such a stream for it enabled me to be an all-rounded adult e.g., an Arts cum Social Science degree graduate managing a company specialising in computers and information technology.

The only argument which I find plausible, in choosing Science over Humanities, with the exception of aptitude and ambition, is that if one has strong interest in both, but is yet undecided on which stream to choose. In such a case, it is definitely easier for a science student to pick up an Arts subject in tertiary education, instead of say, an Arts student taking up Physics for his degree.

Other than that, take the stream or subjects which your heart tells you to. This advice comes from someone who has graduated in Philosophy and Politics, and yet has no problems gaining employment and achieving a little success for himself.

39 comments:

Anonymous said...

Tony,
you made your arguments pretty well until the last part where you said that if one has interest in both science and arts but yet undecided which to choose, he/she should pick Arts since it is easier than science.

Now, in saying that I find you to contradict much of your earlier arguments that one should not put science higher than arts. In line with your earlier arguments, you might want to explain why you think its easier for science student to study arts rather than the other way around.

Also, I think there are some differences between students choosing science or arts for Form Four which seems to be the main topic under discussion and the later part of your argument about science vs arts in tertiary level.

Anonymous said...

I think the reason is that science courses in universities normally presume and require background knowledge, so much so that it would be very hard to enrol in those courses, not to mention do well in it. Another obvious reason that I could think of is the prerequisite of most university science courses - you can't take up the courses if you have never done science subjects (I mean biology, physics, chemistry etc, instead of the basic science). This is again the corollary of the previous argument.

As for arts, there isn't such a prerequisite for some reasons. I guess the reasons are that arts subjects in universities are such specialized subjects, so it doesn't really matter what you have enrolled in secondary school. Whether you have taken physics or economics, doesn't really demonstrate your aptitude in, say, philosophy.

Tony P said...

Ummm... Anon 01:16,

I didn't say that "...but yet undecided which to choose, he/she should pick Arts since it is easier than science."

I just said that if one has aptitude for both, and likes both Science and Arts, that it's plausible (as an argument) to pick Science ahead of Arts for Form 4 & 5, and choose to switch back to Arts later in tertiary education.

It's "easier" not in the sense that the subjects are simpler, but from the process perspective whereby as Youngyew above mentioned, no subject prerequisites are required for Arts-based degrees, whereas, they are typically required for Science degrees e.g., Medicine.

Tiara said...

"contrarian"! I love that. I'm stealing that. XD

It is true that for many Arts subjects in uni, you don't need proof of previous knowledge. Though for some in Performance Arts and Fine Arts, portfolios are required, and it would be easy for a Malaysian student to lose out in this regard - they may not always have the opportunity to show their interest and talent in acting or visual art or so on because they haven't had a chance to explore it before!

Science and History are still compulsory subjects for the SPM, so it is still "well-rounded" in a sense. (Pure Sciences people don't have to take "Science" as an additional subject, but everyone has to take History...MWAHA!) Though one big problem is the way the Arts/Humanities subjects are taught - they do still overly rely on memorization, so often it is a case of "memorizing dates" rather than why this or that happened. And if your artistic vision doesn't fit the marking system's, prepare to lose marks.

It's quite a weird situation really.

Ahpiau academic said...

My 2 cents...

I reckon that humanities courses are far less difficult as compared to science. In my experience, I have seen numerous science stream students (Form 4-5) who have converted to art streams (Form 6) and performed extremely well in STPM (most of them obtained 2 to 5 A's).

Having said that, I also believe that a science graduate is also likely to be paid less than his/her arts counterparts. Example: Graduates in the finance sector who gained employment at top-tier financial institutions such as Morgan Stanley, Merrill Lynch and JP Morgan are earning megabucks while pure science graduates working at an MNC are paid less.

These are but my observations and many of you may disagree with me...

N.B. Im applied science-based...

blueheeler said...

Ah, the debate over 'science' and 'arts'... Well, 1st things 1st. ahpiau said "humanities courses are far less difficult as compared to science". Dear ahpiau, a brilliant student can score 100% on a cehm/bio/physics/maths test, but why can't he do the same for a geog/hist/lit test?

To be the voice of reason 'science' and 'arts' CANNOT exist without one another. Just like there is no 'good' unless there is an 'evil' to make 'good' look, well, 'good', science and arts may be different like night and day but yet they live a shared existence. A scientis may give a 1-hour long lecture on how the 'science' behind how rainbow is formed, but perhaps only a poet can use words to capture its beauty even after it disappears.

Anonymous said...

Reason why I took science is because I cannot tahan the Arts!! The arts subjects are so boring and so subjective....that you cannot really say or answer it objectively. It 'gropes' here and there

Anonymous said...

Obviously , one has to look ahead of his/her employment in future when decide choosing Art or Science. Most of the parents don't want to waste their hard-earned money to invest in Social Science or religion study or antropology for their kids

In a perfect world, you can graduate with History and become a historian while able to pay off your study loan and feed your family.

But.. Tony , we are not living in a perfect world

Ah Teng said...

Hello,

To me arts stream is not only to so antropology or sociology per se. Or to do history or geography. Arts stream prepare students for more than that. Law, accounting, business studies (finance, banking, insurance etc), economic, language and linguistic, education, religion studies, international relation, international trade, journalism etc.

Guys,

History is only a small component of arts stream. Arts also not as easy as ah piau academic suggested. May be ah piau academic can substantiate his argument that arts is easier.

To me this is perception. We intent to look science as more superior that arts. In the early 80's when I was in the secondary school, nobody told us that the career option for arts student is much more wider and not only to become a sasterawan. Thus, everybody want to go science stream because can become doctors or engineers.

But nowadays our kids are lucky. There are more options for them and the good thing is that now they have career counselling.

Tiara said...

The focus on employment, both in this thread and in general, saddens me. Does everything need to be tied up to "getting a high-paying job"? Can't it be about self-enrichment, living a full life, being happy?

The Star's Education survey had a couple of questions along the lines of "would you choose your uni/do self-enrichment courses to increase your ability to get a job"? In the comments I told them off for it: I said that if I were to take self-enrichment courses, it would be for MY OWN SELF-ENRICHMENT, not for some career goal.

Yes, for some people career is important. But is that the only purpose of school, to create workers?

Anonymous said...

Both sciences and arts have their own pros and cons. But if put in context of Malaysia, i think science courses have more of an edge in the minds of most people. I mean, at least in the case of the schools in my district, including mine, almost most who did academically well went to pursue sciences instead of arts when they enrolled into f4. This was also the case in most F6 enrollments. However there exist more exceptions in F6, when some students got tired of, or started to dislike science.

I was a physics student during F6, and through a twist of fate, am now reading economics in my university and I found that it is interesting and more to my liking. Instead of just formulas and set answers, we get to argue and think critically about things rather than think on a straight line or numbers. Well, some people like objectivity while some like to see things the other way. It depends on preferences.

However i feel employment opportunities for one those who do sciences are bigger than those of arts streams. Maybe as the focus of the country is mostly on sciences instead. Even in the public university i'm attending you can see more funding and priority going to sciences.

In the end its on preference. Watever you choose, i'm confident you'll still get good employment if your good enough in your field, no matter science or arts.

lalaland said...

Being a student who has taken both the sciences and arts ( history, maths, physics, chemistry ) in A-level , I believe that the requirements for sciences and arts are drastically different.

From my experience, I feel that the sciences require precision and clarity in explaining the syllabus whereas history in particular, requires one's flexibility in churning out different ideas and explainations.

I once had a conversation with a NTU professor who was teaching international studies and he revealed the dfficulty in training engineers and people of science-based subjects in the field of international studies. The primary difficulty came down to them being less open-minded to different types of explainations of an event. They were still locked in the usual "science mode" of 1+1=2 type of thinking. In the field of arts, there is no definite equations and answers, only more refined answers.

Anonymous said...

To see whether Arts is easier than Science, just consider this: many university students did NOT take History or Geography for their STPM, yet are able to get a good degree majoring in these subjects. Now, have you ever heard of anyone who did not take Mathematics, Physics, Chemistry ect in their STPM dare to major in these subjects in university?

Anonymous said...

Then pls tell me how come science students can excel in Arts courses but not vice versa?

This proves science students more smarter maaa!

In my school all the clever clever obes take science, the not clever ones do arts....

Jan said...

As an Arts student studying in a Singapore JC, I am naturally biased towards the Arts. Nevertheless, here's my two cents on why the Arts are definitely not inferior to the Sciences.

While it may be easier to pass Arts subjects compared to Science subjects, it is far more difficult to ace an Arts subject. Science examinations usually have objective answers, and if you have studied your content well, you can be guaranteed an A, or even full marks. Examinations for Arts subjects like History and Literature, on the other hand, are essay-based with subjective answers, and merely knowing your content will not help you pass. You need to argue convincingly to support your stand. You need to have excellent writing abilities. And even then, teachers are loath to grant an essay full marks - unlike in the Sciences, where a correct answer is a correct answer.

As part of this Arts training, Arts students are usually far more proficient in language and communication skills than Science students. And I would contend that communication skills is of primary importance if one is to succeed in most future careers. The Arts training thus prepares students for careers in law, business, finance, and the media far better than the Science path.

In fact, the Science training has limited utility. Most working adults I know tell me that what they had learnt in the Science syllabus during their secondary school and college years are completely irrelevant to what they are doing now, and they have by and large forgotten all the formulas and scientific principles they had so painstakingly memorised for exams. The Science training thus only has relevance for those who intend to take up specialised careers in engineering, medicine, computer programming, etc.

Some may contend that the Arts syllabus is largely useless too, as one seldom needs to know historical dates or literary allusions to succeed in life. However, this signifies a complete misunderstanding of the Arts. The content of Arts subjects are not as important as the skills you learn. Skills such as differentiating between nuances of meaning; weighing the relative importance of different causal factors; understanding the relationship between change and continuity; discerning the tone, intent and credibility of a particular source; thinking critically and analytically; constructing a cogent and coherent argument… all these are very relevant skills which will stay with you for a long time. This is unlike Science subjects, where emphasis is placed on material knowledge rather than skills. And such knowledge gets forgotten very fast.

I can think of three main reasons why the Arts are perceived as inferior to the Sciences: 1) Science subjects require more memory work and studying than Arts subjects; 2) The Arts may be perceived as less practical and relevant than the Sciences to the economy; and 2) The Arts syllabus in Malaysia is not really challenging. Having not studied an Arts course in Malaysia, I can’t really comment on the latter, but given the appalling (English) language standard of most Malaysians, I suspect that Malaysia’s Arts syllabus cannot be as demanding as that of Singapore.

lalaland said...

Agree with Jan, the Arts syllabus in Malaysia ( for SPM ) is not challenging and it mainly concerns memorising content to score.

I was particularly shocked when I took up history in Singapore as the methods of learning and examining is totally different from Malaysia. While accuracy of facts is still demanded, students are further required to produce arguments that made sense ( e.g. not copy straight from the text books, there are no official text books for A level).

Furthermore, there was even something called Source Based Question which sounded so alien to me when I went over to Singapore. I still feel that the skills learnt in answering Source Based Question are the most relevant ones and these can be quoted from Jan( previous post

Skills learnt:differentiating between nuances of meaning; weighing the relative importance of different causal factors; understanding the relationship between change and continuity; discerning the tone, intent and credibility of a particular source; thinking critically and analytically; constructing a cogent and coherent argument

To Jan: China came out again for 3rd year running.( that is if you took the paper in nov 2006 ) -_-'

Tony P said...

hey,

Just a quick comment on Anon 11:57 who essentially said that studying history means becoming a historian means no good income.

This is exactly the reason why people have a misconception of the Humanities. It seems like if I studied Politics, I'll have to become a politician, or worse, I did Philosophy, so I am now a Philosopher!

That's certainly the thinking of the older generation, and it's misguided.

The humanities subjects are meant to help students learn to think and use their brains in analytical and creative ways. And I must say, I have benefited immensely from my humanities programmes in O, A and degree levels over my 9 years of education, making me a more resourceful and hopefully more streetsmart and intelligent person.

I run a decent e-business consulting company today making full use of the faculties which I have developed over the years in school. And I'm neither a professional historian nor philosopher. ;)

Anonymous said...

i read somewhere that the famous management guru, Peter Drucker was a lawyer , not an economist , by education..

Anonymous said...

Anon Tue Jan 16, 02:43:52 PM,
now i know how clever u r :) but sadly ur reasoning just doesn't show it

Anonymous said...

To Anon, Tue Jan 2, 2:36:27

I quote u saying

"Now, have you ever heard of anyone who did not take Mathematics, Physics, Chemistry ect in their STPM dare to major in these subjects in university?"

In the first place, your question is very difficult to be be answered. Cos very RARELY is a student who did arts in F6, is accepted into a public university to do sciences. WHy? because the pre-requisites do not permit it.

HOWEVER, I did have a senior who did arts in F6, but through a miracle maybe, was accepted into sciences and majored in biology. So, yes I have heard of it. He did go for it.

Anonymous said...

Sorry i had to repost,

To Anon, Tue Jan 16, 2:36:27

I quote u saying

"Now, have you ever heard of anyone who did not take Mathematics, Physics, Chemistry ect in their STPM dare to major in these subjects in university?"

In the first place, your question is very difficult to be be answered. Cos very RARELY is a student who did arts in F6, is accepted into a public university to do sciences. WHy? because the pre-requisites do not permit it.

HOWEVER, I did have a senior who did arts in F6, but through a miracle maybe, was accepted into sciences and majored in biology. So, yes I have heard of it. He did go for it.

Also, I found a lot of my friends who are taking engineering and other sciences found economics hard to understand and do when they chose it as an elective. Though i found it otherwise.

Some thing that I would like to suggest is we not argue that science is better just because our fellow students who did not do so well in secondary school being streamed to arts and the academically better ones were streamed to sciences. This is just a flawed instance in our education system and NOT the subject.

Zheng An said...

Humanities require creativity, hardwork, excellent probing skills, writing skills and superior language ability. You do have to realise in the Singapore context it is very easy to pass a humans subject but its very demanding and require much more talent to ace it. As i who takes the same combination as Tony Pua (im from Temasek JC), experiences it first hand last year. Being a students who takes maths and humanities subject. I find that as long as the student is talented and hardworking enough. It is possible to ace in this both fields. In my O levels, i had score straight As in my science and humanities subjects including language. I choose to do a predominantly humanities combinaion purely due to my passion for it. Another factor of my decision is that i do know that i have a much superior anaylitical and language skills, thus I am able to ace in Humanities with bare minimum mugging....

Anonymous said...

I agree with K^SHy0nG that part of our perception of science being better than arts is due to our education system. But I wouldn't say its flawed. Developing countries like Malaysia see science as the foundation for modernizing the country. As such our education system has been geared towards producing scientists and engineers to help innovate and develop the country towards a developed nation status.

As we prosper and become more developed and our lives become more enriched we have more options and less constraint by government policies. Eventually, government policies will change too to emphasize humanities as an important area in building a civil society.

And I agree with Zheng An that language skills play an important role in Humanities, probably more than science. As he (or she) said to ace and not simply to pass, you need to be able to express yourself creatively which means you need to have a good command of the language.

moo_t said...

Sciences vs art stream? Sounds like apple vs orange.

If a education worker use "intelligent" to differentiate between science and art, I think they ARE NOT QUALIFY to work in education.

One issue I must remind the author, in Malaysia, many teacher are not PROPERLY trained to conduct the so called art subject. Many teacher are not even an amateur when conduct music course; art teacher that know little,etc.

TY said...

Hi there folks, I am currently studying pure physics in USM.
The debate where the issue "science>art or art>science" is discussed is just damn hilarious.
I study political science and medicine during my past time as they are my interest as well.
From what I had observed, all fields have their own difficult part, especially at the higher level.
For those who assume science is just "1+1=2" logic, you are certainly welcomed to try string theory in physics or even differential diagnosis in medical science.
For those who assume political science is damn easy, go ahead and try yourself in analyzing complicated political issues.

It's always up to a person to decide which field to major in varsity. While society misconception and parents' pressure are part of the reasons why art subjects never gained much popularity, it's more important nowadays that youngster should have a critical thinking in making decision regardless their interest is in science or art subjects.

TY

Anonymous said...

Whan an exciting thread!

Personally, I think education should (note: SHOULD) be about preparing us for the real world. In other words, it should teach us basic academics, but more importantly are the 'soft skills' like time management, communication skills, meeting deadlines, business writing and the like.

I dare say that a Sociology graduate should be able to work for Tony's company, right, Tony? If that person shows enough interest and is 'teachable', has good communication and other soft skills and puts in the hours required, who cares if he/she is a Sociology graduate or a Computer Science graduate?

In fact, when I was an undergraduate in the UK some 15 years ago, I distinctly remember being told by potential employers that they prefer a 'well rounded' candidate. I interviewed with some accounting firms and they specifically preferred candidates who did NOT do an accounting degree. Rather, someone with a different degree but with enough basic accounting knowledge, e.g. accounting subject electives or even A Level accounting.

Anonymous said...

General perception is that science focus on gaining factual knowledge while humanities develop goals like creativity and communication skills. So the point is, since both knowledge development and intellectual development are equally important, why limit one’s learning potential ?

So for a pure science student, it’s reasonable to persuade your parents to allow you to take some additional arts subjects as much as handle-able and allow-able, of course with outside school tuition for those selected subjects which school time-table does not permit.

ellie..

nerd said...

You guys certainly took it too far from the original recently 'graduated' PMR students who are now in Form 4 in their respective schools. Whether they are in Science or Arts stream, they still have to study the basic core subjects, which comprise mostly Art subjects like languages, history, and basic Maths. The arts students have to learn basic sciences as well. Hence I think that there are balances between the 2 contended streams. Other than that, I think that it's still too early for them to know what career paths they are going to choose in their tertiary years. I believe many students will be confused and surprised at the wide range of choices they have once they step out of schools. That's when and why the counsellors and elders' advices come in handy in order to guide them, not urge them to do something they like or otherwise.

Anonymous said...

Let’s put it this way, IMHO, there is no difference between studying science or arts. Both subject required passion and interest to do well. Pure science is a study to understand how nature works, e.g. how body system function, how universe is formed and so forth. On the other hand, arts (or humanities) is a study to understand how the society works. In other words, it’s more about dealing with human-related subjects or what human has created (i.e. economy, society, communication and so forth). Therefore, it’s not surprising that science subjects are usually more objective (i.e. 1+1=2) and art subjects is more subjective by nature.

If all the organisms (i.e. human, animals and plants) do not have intelligent, art will perish. But, science (the law of physics and etc) will still persist as far as our universe still persists. In that sense, science is perhaps more universal than arts (in my opinion). On another perspective, since art is dealing with human nature (i.e. human behavior), it could be categorized as a branch of science, because human is part of nature. Just like geography is the study of earth but it could also be considered as part of astronomy as earth is part of the universe. Conceptually, if the theory of everything exist, it will predict all the behavior of nature down to the very tiny little molecule that exist in the universe, including how human think and behave. If that is the case, all the arts theory and subjects will collapse as one could precisely predict how people will react to certain act/behavior, i.e. one could produce a perfect product that everyone would like to buy, no more competition, economy will collapse and everything that we do/react will be predicted just like a robot. Then, humanity will perish. Scary huh…! Just a wild thought.

Anyway, come back to the real world. Whether science is better than art, it’s a question of regional relevant. The reason I said so is because different region of the world (i.e. developed vs developing countries) has different emphasis. Country like Malaysia and China which based their economy heavily on manufacturing might emphasize science rather than art. On the other hand, countries like Singapore and Hong Kong which is a financial or services hub will perhaps emphasize more on arts (i.e. finance, economy, accounting and etc). Developed countries like US and UK emphasized both as they need both the leading technology and services to maintain their economy. In Malaysia, we still need a lot of engineer and doctors to support the growth of the country. That’s probably why science graduate has a higher demand and is normally higher paid when they first started their job than art graduate. But, the situation might change in the future when Malaysia become well developed and need more of the services to sustain its growth. So at the end of the day, both are equally important. But, at the mean time, practically speaking, I think science graduates will still be in high demand in Malaysia, perhaps in the next 10 years. So, my bias at the moment, is more to science than art. Sorry, art people, no hard feeling. Just my opinion :)

Anonymous said...

If you take arts, you will die in poverty!

Tiara said...

Some of the anti-arts people on this thread need to read up on logical fallacies one day. Or the dangers of stereotyping.

Your Fellow Anon said...

Well said!

For a 15+ year old who just finished PMR, it could be a tough decision. People who are wired to do math and science (e.g. myself) have no problems picking science. Others who have a passion for art, accounting etc would pick arts stream.

For those in between type who does not have a love/hate for either stream, the decision becomes unclear. The next level down in the decision matrix is the consideration of how the syllabus are being implemented.

As pointed out above, subjects such as history and even accounting should be taught with an analytical slant and not just rote memorization. As most of us know, this is unfortunately not that case.

Though this could also be said the same for the science stream. IMHO, analytical skills are used more frequently in subjects like add maths and physics. (BTW E=mc2 is still a theory).

Coming from a science stream, many of my fellow classmates went on to do finance and accounting without much difficulty (though they profess hating physics or one subject or the other. I disliked chemistry :P) . Others went on to study medicine and engineering out of choice/passion (e.g. myself).

My point is: science stream does not trump arts stream. But if you're choosing a stream purely for the personal development; with the consideration of how classes are taught, I'm unashamedly biased towards science stream.

Anonymous said...

Aiya. Read Tony's thing again lah AHPIAU. The arts stream in Malaysian secondary schools is only inferior to the science stream because, although Malaysia sucks at math and science, Malaysia sucks REALLY REALLY BADLY in social science, the humanities, and the fine arts.

DKR said...

Very well written and very pognant article. HAve to agree with almost all that you've stated. Being a good student, I have always been cajoled into doing sciences even from a very young age. IT's all to do with a very Malaysian mentality that the better students study sciences while the weaker ones do arts, especially at lower secondary levels. This attitude should be abhored as it promotes a tunnel vision kind of mentality. Only now, after completing my degree in a science subject, do I find a great enjoyment of the arts and humanities. I just wished I had the opportunity to delve into these subjects from a younger age and had not been 'pressurized' into the science stream. We all need to change our mind sets and open up to the possibilities of other 'non-conventional' subjects in the humanities and arts realm.

Anonymous said...

IMHO, schools should stop streaming up students...I thhink students should learn both science subjects and arts subjects..both are important in life. The gov should scrap the general science subject in arts stream because it is so stupid..instead they should make bio, chemistry and physics a compulsary subjects for everyone. Schools should focus more on analytic and problem solving skills rather than forcing students memorize formulas etc..etc. Our streaming of students is outdated things are getting inter-disciplinary now if they dont change the system now then we will screw up.

Your Fellow Anon said...

The government should... Also, the government should...

There are things beyond our control. We strive for a better life. Some people make it their mission in life. Others strive to make everyone's life better.

Beyond gains in fame and power, I hope the politicians will do the right thing for everyone.

Anonymous said...

Do you know that Science students at STPM make better law students in the university compared to arts students?

They are more cleverer and logical and analytical compared to the diffused brain of the Arts students?

During my students days in 60's the Art students are the ones in class C, D, E or F. Most them dozing away in class

Tiara said...

jerng: BINGO. Most of the problem is that the "academically bad" students are automatically shuffled into the Arts stream while the "geniuses" are pushed into Science. Anyone trying to break the status quo (like I did) will only face trouble. Heck, I've had my Commerce teacher ask me the first day of class if I was in the wrong classroom. -_-;;

Compulsory Bio, Physics, and Chem? Ew. Why do people advocate compulsory pure sciences but you never really hear anyone making Arts subjects compulsory?

anon 22/1/07 06:03:35 pm: perfect example of how shuttling away the not-so-A-grade students into Arts just creates a vicious cycle. If those Science students are so much better in Law, why didn't they take Arts at school in the first place? Did they have a choice? And dude, "More cleverer"? "Diffused brain"? People all have the same brains, and "more cleverer" isn't even proper English.

Anonymous said...

to the person above, yup you are right arts / social science subjects should be
compulsory. Subjects like economics philosophy, psychology and world history are as important as pure science subjects. Those subject will make students understand about human nature and human thoughts unlike pure science subjects which lacks certain things like values and ethics. IMHO high school students should study both social science subjects and pure science subjects. Both require analytical skills.