I’ve had these two pictures sitting on my computer for the past couple weeks that were taken in the most unlikely of places: A women’s bathroom stall. I normally don’t pay much attention to graffiti because it’s always some form of tagging or some absurd message about harassing a (normally) unsuspecting individual for a ‘good time.’ Apparently, my university’s library is full of sometimes interesting philosophies and highly cynical individuals. I’m not entirely shocked, though, considering the way we treat academia and generally push people through it.
The original image, which I was going to discuss on its own until I saw the second, is something that continually annoys me in this degree-mill society we’ve created. The assumption that a person doing an arts degree has it so easy as to not be depressed by the work involved still bothers me; it will always bother me because I have spent so many long hours researching and writing, and I have spent many long hours working – for free or paying for the honour, as our society has deemed necessary – in areas where I am passionate just to have the experience and maybe get access to those areas. Why? Because it’s something I love and am severely passionate about.
But we’re clearly undervaluing degrees that aren’t in the STE areas (sorry, maths, you get to join humanities in being undervalued while also being perceived as difficult), and part of this is because we’ve told everyone that they need a degree just so that they have access to low-paying jobs that can be done by individuals with high school diplomas. We’re pushing people into tertiary education who don’t want to be there and are only there because we’ve told them they had to be. We’re undervaluing these areas because they’re not “economical” and don’t “produce things of value,” whatever those might be as ‘value’ is a subjective term. Humanities are considerably undervalued because our businesses often don’t want to see people, even though every aspect of their company involves one key component: people. These areas are undervalued because we see an aptitude for history, anthropology, psychology, sociology, economics, languages and literature, arts, music, and everything else as being “easy” and as being a “lazy” way to gain access to a degree.
And for a small fraction of people, that might be true. But it is certainly not true for all of us, especially those of us who want to use our skills to improve our chosen fields.
These areas are not always easy, especially if you’ve a passion for it and desire to always learn more than what they teach you; it’s not bloody easy when you want to see your field advance and know many of its aspects are highly contentious because our own culture doesn’t want to see the results (like when behavioural scientists found Western culture to not be an adequate measure of universals). It’s painful to watch people enter your field, knowing they don’t have a passion for it because you’ve overheard them say it’s “just for the degree.” This isn’t common, but it does happen enough for you to recognise there is a problem with the way our society “values” education, if it does at all.
And it’s painful to observe the continued separation between academic subjects, to watch science vie with social sciences for resources and subsequently watch humanities continue to fail because our economic importance falls entirely with STE fields and not the fields they should be working with to better understand the impacts of their advancements on the cultures utilising them. We need an interdisciplinary approach, and this needs to be seen as necessary. I love science, but I also love social sciences; I want to see them working together, as they should be, rather than be prised apart because there’s some invisible wall between them that really doesn’t exist.
I suppose I feel this more because I’ve spent a considerable amount of time working on the issue of genetically modified foods and instances of nanotechnologies; I’ve seen how the scientific “experts” and governments screwed up in addressing the issues, particularly in terms the public wanted. They looked at it from what we know as the information deficit model, and this persists in so much of the technology that we seek to create and how we legislate it; “experts” assume they have all of the information and knowledge, but they don’t realise they have little understanding of the issue at a local level, and they often don’t have an understanding of how citizens view the problem. It’s not because they’re stupid; it’s because they just haven’t spent the same amount of time working with those people. In asking themselves how to solve the problems they believe the public are worried about, they most frequently inundate the public with information they don’t necessarily need or weren’t asking for. It’s not healthy to look at STEM fields without including humanities; it may supposedly be “economically” healthy, but it is most definitely not socially healthy.
BUT, and this is what made this an interesting find for me, I went in a week later while spending 12-hour days in the library completing my environmental education case study for policy and saw that, as seen in the second image, someone had scratched out the irritatingly poor response and replaced it with one of concern. Whether or not the original person had seen it, I don’t know; I hope they did because it’s something that anyone – regardless of what is causing them stress or depressing them – needs to see or hear, even if it’s in some place like a stall in the women’s toilet.
Rather than using a person’s proclamation of being depressed and feeling as if university was dragging them down (being the douchenozzle who had clearly forgotten how to treat people), someone wiped it off and replaced it with a message of concern and of best wishes. The only thing that could’ve made this response better is a graffiti-list of places in which anyone who felt similarly could go and deal with it. The original writer was in pain, which can be hard to deal with when you’re stressed out over deadlines and assignments; these events often make us feel even weaker and less capable when we fail to meet them because we need more time to handle our situations and the tasks we have to complete. Depression takes a lot of forms and often doesn’t make sense to people looking in, but we should be giving signs of hope and help rather than unhelpful or sarcastic messages.
Despite being so annoyed to have written that massive essay just prior, seeing the second response made me incredibly happy. It made me pleased that those individuals still exist and that there are sometimes people who are nice enough to, even in minor ways, be kind and concerned in their own way. Perhaps it’s because I often find myself feeling the pressure of university, feeling crushed beneath the hours upon hours university work that increase in the final weeks, but I’m glad to see someone offering a handful of kind words.
It’s interesting what sort of inspiration can come from scribblings found in a toilet stall.
Yesterday was Halloween, and I cannot count the amount of times I’ve been asked about why it’s even important when people make bad decisions regarding costumes (you know, things like racist and blackface costumes and oh my god, I cannot even handle these people). That’s not what Halloween is for! But I miss Halloween because it was what I looked forward to the most growing up.
The costumes were my favourite thing ever, especially because we could do almost anything. My costumes were insane when I [...] Continue Reading…
I don’t normally want to write about massively personal issues, especially relationships; it makes me uncomfortable to even mention more than the effects of university on my emotional well-being, but this event is taking such a ridiculous amount of energy and stirring up so many thoughts that I have to address it. I have to actually write about it and to make it known because these actions are things that people should not engage in. These are things that people should have the common courtesy to never do. These are things that make me want to give up dating [...] Continue Reading…
I had planned to throw more of my creative projects online, vlog more and just… do more. I wasn’t entirely sure where it would go, but it appears to have gone absolutely nowhere. My motivation has been drowning, and I’m placing the blame squarely on university. No, that’s actually a really terrible excuse, but it has taken a lot out of me this semester. To add to it, I’ve been battling with a range of emotions that I can’t accurately describe or feel uncomfortable expressing to, well, most people. Those kinds of things will often ruin any motivation, and [...] Continue Reading…
I’ve been trying to finish a teaching placement for almost a year now; in fact, by the time I’m actually able to complete it for my graduate diploma of education, it will have been more than a year since I was told I needed to redo it. There were a number of reasons that I failed my second teaching placement, and those reasons are entirely different based on which person you ask and what their bias is in the situation. I’m not going to say that everything I did was perfect, but I don’t think I was so bad and so uninterested that I taught badly; I think, as many things tend to be, a lot of that had to do with politics. But that’s not what this post is about. [...] Continue Reading…