Dalhousie

Language and Science! What is it good for? Absolutely nothing

Challenge these antiquated requirements

written by Saunder Waterman
December 10, 2016 9:02 pm

University is an interesting place. There is so much to do, so much to be a part of and most of all, so much to learn. Underneath this layered foundation, the institution of university is showing its age.

While some students are fighting for major change on campus, I come to you all with a relatively minor question: why must we get a language and a science credit for the Bachelor of Arts degree?

As I struggle through my fourth year, my bad decisions are catching up with me. One of the smaller decisions on this list was my inept failure to accomplish the language and science credit requirements in my first year. To be fair, I did get half of my psychology credit in first year, but I was waitlisted for the second half. It should be fun finishing that credit three and a half years later.

Let’s get into this — back in the day, the language and the science credit of a BA represented an attempt to make the student a more well-rounded and well-versed thinker. This reasoning still applies today, but there are so many more subjects to study so you can still achieve that well-roundedness without sacrificing practicality.

An astronomy credit is unlikely to be more useful to you than a business or economics 101 credit, unless you’re planning on going into writing horoscopes. As a liberal arts student, it would be much more beneficial for me to learn about how to manage the little money I’ll be making versus learning the patterns of the stars.

The same thing applies—albeit to a lesser extent—with language. Would it be more helpful for me to learn Italian, or learn the language of computers? An intro to computer software course could actually be helpful to me, in this budding age of technology. With a developed understanding of computer software and hardware, I could be in a much better position in a job interview than if I know a little Italian.

I love Italian, don’t get me wrong, but its practicality ends with me ordering a sandwich while vacationing in Italy, if I’m lucky. All I’m saying is that technological comprehension may open more career doors for us BA students than the status quo.

I will admit, I am a bit more sympathetic to language than science; Italian is my favourite class of the year by far. Also, learning a language is one of the most difficult things your brain can do. It can also help cultivate a better understanding of one’s own language. Anyone who I meet that knows more than one language is automatically a genius. What’s more, it’s hard to dispute that learning French can be a crucial leg-up in a professional environment. If I had to make a compromise with the mysterious men that decided how to structure our degrees, I could be satisfied leaving language as a necessary credit.

Science, though. I mean, come on. Try and find one of your science friends if you can. I’ll give you a hint: they’re either locked in a lab somewhere, or buried in the Killam under a mountain of paper. Anyways, go and find them. Once you do, make sure to give them a hug, because they are absolutely miserable.

Taking science is the opposite of instant gratification. They have to wait ten years for the payoff of being able to diagnose old people with foot disease. I know I’m going to be miserable once I graduate school with my BA. Don’t make me more miserable than I have to be by forcing me to learn the anatomy of a plant.

So, if you’ve bothered to read this, I’ll reiterate my question. Why do I have to take a language and a science as mandatory credits? The world is changing, and it would be nice if I didn’t have to waste my precious electives taking mandatory courses.

In most cases, a knowledge of business and software is much more beneficial in a professional setting than a rudimentary understanding of language and science. Return my degree to relevance; leave my interaction with language and science up to me.

Why can’t you force me to take something else? Please, tell me why. I’m dying to know.

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