This morning, as I muster up the beans to make this a productive day, I see that the Guardian is reporting on various universities scrapping their history courses because they do not have the post-study high-bucks earning potential that STEM subjects enjoy. (And they are not attracting enough students to run these courses).
On a personal level I totally get this. I studied History and English Language at a Russell Group university and it did not give me the high earnings: but it did give me the confidence and skills to manage information and present it in other ways. This is a really, really useful ability. My own life circumstances also affected my lack of high earnings. After graduating I shunned the cities and lived in rural West Cumbria where opportunities for humanities’ graduates were slim. I was depressed. If I’d chosen to live in London and hadn’t suffered a sudden bereavement my history degree may have proved more profitable. I can’t blame it all on the boogie.
But interestingly, the supposed value of a different subject is causing much consternation in our household as our son’s choice of GCSEs is being affected by Covid-19. You see, when the local secondary school reopened in-between lockdowns it only offered practical subjects to its GCSE and A level students. This meant that for the younger years they had theoretical lessons in subjects such as Music and Food Technology. Our son had to choose his GCSE options this spring and the only subject he was certain about was Food Tech. Sadly he was in a financially unviable minority and now we learn that there wasn’t enough interest in Food Tech to run the course. For the past five or so years this hasn’t been a problem, but thanks to Covid and the school’s policy, that isn’t the case this year. I am gutted. He is sad. We keep trying to rack our brains to think of a work-around but I doubt we will succeed.
The new Food and Nutrition GCSE is awesome. It covers food provenance, the science of food, as well as cooking and food hygiene. I think it is brilliant and rather than being side-lined as being non-profitable, it should be compulsory. Every student leaving school should understand about the food system and how to feed oneself. But I am not a head teacher. Boo.