In Pakistan, students’ choice of subjects depends essentially on two factors. First, whether or not the subject can be cleared with the least possible effort, and second, whether it scores or not. Whether or not a subject is in lieu with the capabilities of the student is a factor that is mostly ignored. Social science subjects are one such category that are looked down upon by most students as being thoroughly useless. The opinion of the majority holds that there is no point in studying a subject that promises little marks and low percentage.
Also, social sciences (generally part of a larger field called ‘Arts’) are mostly looked down upon as subjects that can be cleared, albeit with a low mark and minimum study time. At the university level especially, most students see these subjects as lower in prestige, simply because there is little understanding or conceptual studies involved. Plus, many students believe that they require minimum effort.
However practically speaking, studying of social sciences subjects does involve a huge effort as well as promises a lot more than just marks and percentage. Following are some of the merits of studying social sciences. Do bear in mind that these merits vary according to the teacher and the system in which social sciences are taught. This writer is referring mainly to the study of social science subjects at ‘A’ levels and university.
A good command over the language
Examination in social sciences mainly involves writing essays rather than solving multiple choice or structured questions. Writing out answers to such questions, whether in an assignment, test or examination, requires not just knowledge but good command of the language being used. Varied sentence structure, proper use of tenses, a good introduction, efficient paragraphing, and adequate proof of planning have to be apparent. Hence, memorizing the textbook will only take one so far in this examination. This, in my opinion, is the very first merit of studying subjects such as economics and sociology. They strengthen your language skills.
As mentioned above, it isn’t just knowledge that is required to excel in this category of subjects. When solving questions, you’ll have to demonstrate that you have understood the question and the issue being discussed. In other words, you have to efficiently express yourself. A question like: “To what extent will fiscal policy solve the problem of inflation?” involves not just writing out facts about the fiscal policy memorized from your notes, but also expressing your own opinion about how it will solve a given macroeconomic problem. The same is true for other subjects in this category. Consistent practice will definitely improve your power of expression in writing.
Improved study skills
From the above two points, it naturally follows that rote learning is essentially a limited option, when studying social sciences. Hence, while reading a textbook or studying some other reference material, you’ll have to rely on such study skills as mind mapping, listing points, etc., to memorize the important phrases, points and definitions. As you proceed with each chapter, your study skills will definitely improve and get ample of practice as well.
Development of analytical and critical thinking skills
You can never rely on only one textbook, when studying for social sciences. There are always a range of books and material to go through, and you’re hardly required to reproduce them. Most of the times you will be asked to state your opinion and support it fully from what you have studied. In this, you will demonstrate that you have the skills to select material relevant to the question being asked, analyze it critically, and then state your opinion accordingly by expressing yourself in the best way possible. Therefore, with such subjects as women studies and psychology, you can develop your analytical and critical thinking skills.
Awareness of current affairs
Most of the time, courses of social sciences require a knowledge and understanding of related global issues. So essentially you have to keep up with what is going on in the world and ensure that you use all your study skills and power of expression to reflect it in your exam or assignment. Some social science subjects’ syllabi have some specific issues mentioned; hence, a student has to keep up with them in the newspapers and astutely follow relevant news stories.
So there you have it. Those studying social sciences aren’t the ‘morons’ they often get labeled as, nor do they deserve the most uncalled-for insult from the scientific community as those, who couldn’t get admission elsewhere, or have an easy time of it, because they do not have to study at all. As can be gauged from the above points, social sciences are definitely not easy to study nor easy to pass and shouldn’t be looked down upon as inferior.