This combination was prevalent in higher education in Tamil Nadu. The pre-university course introduced in 1956 had four subjects of equal credit. As a student of the first batch, I had Maths, Physical Sciences, Logic, and Economics. In the three-year B.Sc. that followed, I studied Maths (Main), Physics (Ancillary), World History (Minor), as educators then felt that exposure to the Arts subjects would improve the scientist’s depth of vision.
Science and the Arts are complementary and necessary for holistic development. While the Arts improve soft skills like communication, Science sharpens analytical and independent thinking. Maths is seen to be intertwined with the Arts such as music, dance, and architecture. Pythagoras was a geometer, number theorist, and musicologist. Mathematician Rene Descartes and the multidimensional Euler were also music theorists. Physicist Einstein was an accomplished pianist and violinist; mathematician Manjul Bhargava plays the tabla; and the astronomer Herschel composed 24 symphonies and concertos. Architecture imbibes many mathematical concepts.
It is therefore clear that blended learning of science and arts subjects is beneficial but the current level of blend is not sufficient. In Engineering/Technology education, for instance, only Business English is offered. Why not offer literature as an elective? Performing Arts, History, Politics and other such subjects can be offered as minors. Not only will this go a long way in improving their soft skills but also help them develop in a holistic manner.
The writer is former professor and Head, Entrance exams and admission, Anna University, Chennai.
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