Let me be completely honest: STEM is something I can appreciate, but it’s not really for me.
I enjoy calculus and physics – they are interesting concepts and topics for me – and I appreciate C++ and Java. But they don’t give me the same satisfaction or joy as history or English. Reading about the Compromise of 1850 intrigues me far more than limits in math, though that does not mean I don’t enjoy finding limits.
For me, it’s fun to read something, and the second you get it, that rush of excitement is unparalleled. Or when I read an article in the news, then go and research what it is about, it gives me the same excitement that my friends get when they run a program correctly for AP Computer Science.
The humanities let me put the world into perspective, engaging with the past and how it can change our present and future. Silicon Valley is not exactly the best place to be, for obvious reasons, a humanities-focused student. I’m always bummed that there are, by comparison, far fewer chances for students like me to pursue our passions. We do not have options and opportunities to pursue the passions of our STEM-focused peers, and it is definitely frustrating.
Oftentimes, schools don’t provide that same opportunity. My friend and I wrote an article for our school newspaper about how we’re allowed to double up on STEM courses but not humanities classes. You can take two math or two science classes at Los Altos High School, but not two history or English courses. Our district’s goals for the next five years even include advancements in achievement for students in STEM. It is not that local schools don’t recognize there are students who love the humanities; it’s because we live in an area that stresses STEM. Every couple days, I’ll see someone whom I recognize presenting at developers conferences hosted by Apple or Google, or I’ll spot Sergey Brin on an elliptical bike.
So what can we do? I honestly do not know. I’ve worked hard to make the most of my opportunity on staff at my school paper, The Talon. I’ve appreciated being a part of our Creative Writing Club. I’ve given my all to my humanities courses and writing here. But that is not enough.
Here’s the dream: a student network, where students who love reading, writing, history, etc., could work together. We could publish our content on one central hub, building relationships with the writers in Silicon Valley, the historians at Stanford University and UC Berkeley, fostering creation among one another. We could collaborate on research projects and meet up at coffee shops to share our passion for politics, creative writing or anything related to the humanities.
My thinking behind this is that we, together, can be the center of our passion and no longer feel as though we’re as isolated in this STEM-driven community, creating our own community of young philosophers, political theorists and novelists.
Share this with your friends, classmates, adults, writers – anyone. It does not start with me. It starts with you.
Noah Tesfaye is a junior at Los Altos High. To join his Facebook group, visit facebook.com/groups/596512194045614