As a proud member of the College of Arts and Crafts at Lehigh, I can honestly say that I have learned so much about finger painting, origami birds and paper maché. Or, at least, that’s what you’d think I learn when other students say I’m in the arts and crafts school.
By “arts and crafts,” they mean arts and sciences, and although it might be a joke to them, it insults me. That phrase belittles every single member of the College of Arts and Science into mere kindergarteners because even 5-year-olds can finger paint.
The thing about the “joke” is that the people who say it think their major is so much harder than a humanity, social science or natural science.
I’m a firm believer that every subject is easy in some ways and harder in others. And also that some subjects might be harder, or easier, for some people. But I keep hearing the sentiment that journalism (and a lot of other subjects like English, sociology, modern languages and psychology) is easy, because there are no “hard subjects” involved.
If by “hard subjects,” these people mean math and science, they’re right. Our majors do not heavily rely on math or science, but just because we are not solving a problem by way of a calculation or learning something through an experiment does not mean that our majors are easy.
In the arts and sciences, students learn how to think critically in different ways depending on their specific subject. We are taught about problems, just like in math class. But the difference between math and these majors is that the answer to that problem isn’t summarized into specific steps – like in a math procedure, where you always get the same answer. Instead, our subjects make us explore these problems with our words – by writing essays and papers – and we might all reach a different conclusion.
The topic’s subjectiveness is also something that makes it challenging.
The other thing that makes me so mad about the expression is that the people who are in the more science or math-based majors of the arts and sciences also are belittled even though their subjects are the “hard” ones.
It almost feels like if you’re not an engineer at Lehigh, your major is worthless. But that is so untrue. A lot of the class requirements different sorts of engineers have are some that natural science majors also require.
I do understand that some say that our workload is lighter. Arts and sciences students might not take as many classes, because they have fewer required classes. Or some might argue that we have less homework because of the fact that we take fewer classes.
What I say to that is that our work is a lot more time-consuming. We write papers (which takes a lot of time, especially when you’re struggling with them), we read books or articles and have to analyze them, and we do projects.
As a journalism major, I’ve had weeks were I have an English paper, a video project, an article for the newspaper and a French composition due while, at the same time, blogging twice a week for a class, tweeting two different articles every day for the same class, reading multiple chapters of a book for an English class and French homework due three times a week.
I understand that the subjects are completely different, but it’s not fair, or even nice, to belittle a person’s major because “we do less work” when, in fact, we don’t. We just do different sorts of work.
So what if we can get away with not doing math? If you hate math so much, change majors. You think writing a 10-page research paper is easy? Then you do it. But stop telling all of us our majors are easier than yours.
At this point, when people say I’m in the “arts and crafts school,” I just don’t say anything at all, because the more I think about the expression, the more I laugh. People who are studying engineering are studying a mathematical and/or scientific way to build something. One could argue that crafting is a way of building or creating.
So who is the arts and crafts school now?