Talent: A relative theory

By Charlotte Lee. Charlotte lives in the UK. Please read her article and leave your thoughts and comments below.

Talent is a highly debatable ideology. From a very young age, we look around at the world and at society and ask ourselves: What is my talent? Whether it be writing, spelling, or mathematics, our belief in our own ‘talents’ is shaped in those very early days. Many even grow into adulthood and claim sweeping, self-deprecating statements such as, ‘I can’t spell’ or ‘I’m rubbish at maths’, despite evidence that may well prove otherwise.

As humans we are criminal in our capacity to close ourselves off to other possibilities. The push for societal ingenuity and technological advancement has funnelled educational promotion into STEM subjects. Statistics, as shown in a 2017 article by iD Tech [1], show that STEM jobs are projected to increase by 13% between 2017 and 2027.  Comparatively, in an article by The Guardian [2], we are informed that by 2017, those studying history or philosophy had reduced by 21%. Information such as this emphasised in the media suggests that there is more of a drive behind STEM subjects than the humanities.

However, is it truly as simple or as black and white as the statistics suggest? Taught to discern reality from the imaginary, it takes the curious to explore outside of the box. The Institution of Mechanical Engineers [3] attempted this by claiming ‘that adding art to engineering education teaches the kind of risk-taking approach and creative problem-solving that can be applied to the world’s biggest issues’. Therefore, bridging the gap between the humanities and science is arguably the step toward the future. Talents could then be shared to compliment each other, rather than starkly separated to emphasise the complexity of the different subjects.

Without history, how are we to record and improve medical achievement? Without the equipment created by engineers and scientists, how can police and detectives help put away criminals? Without musicians and artists, how can we aid the afflicted who cannot be helped by modern medicine? Without a combination of words and technology, how can we touch others’ lives, be a positive force for change? There are so many ways that the humanities and the sciences crossover every day and help to change the world. Their combined talents are what makes them powerful and influential, not the special talent of the individual.

Overall therefore, though this article has focused on the perceived contrast between STEM subjects and the humanities, on reflection the scope of the human implications of self-limitation is cataclysmic. Too often, we look at low exam results, a failed interview, or a lack of ability to fix a burst pipe, as a reflection on our abilities, our intelligence, or our talents. In truth, we are not measured by having one special talent, but by our determination to learn. Our passionate curiosity is what shapes us and inspires us to save the world, to believe that there is another way that something can be done.

[1] iD Tech (2017) Available at: https://www.idtech.com/blog/stem-education-statistics (Accessed 21/08/19)
[2] The Guardian (2019) Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2019/mar/12/the-guardian-view-on-humanities-degrees-art-for-societys-sake (Accessed 21/08/19)
[3] The Institution of Mechanical Engineers (2017) Available at: https://www.imeche.org/news/news-article/from-stem-to-steam-the-art-of-creative-engineering (Accessed 21/08/19)

3 comments on “Talent: A relative theory

  1. Ian on

    Excellent and thought provoking article. Fascinating thoughts about the importance of passionate curiosity, the determination to learn and our infinite capacity as humans to reinvent ourselves, to push our own boundaries, and to continuously become more than we are. A very inspirational article from a very talented and thoughtful author.

  2. Rachel on

    This is a fantastic article that hits upon a very critical issue faced by people every day, young or old, – the question of ‘what is my talent?’ as though it is one singular area that defines our very being!

    As this article discusses, we are faced with this question at a very early age causing us to close our minds off to possibilities, to separate ourselves from areas we are not deemed ‘talented’ in, and to question our sense of self and worth. This is an aspirational article that questions the boundaries and limits that are often imposed on people and suggests that it does not have to be a case of defining a specific area of expertise or talent, but instead about pursuing every opportunity to learn and grow as individuals.

    What an aspirational and inspiring world we could live in if everyone approached the world as Charlotte suggests – with passionate curiosity and a belief that there is another way that something can be done. Now that’s a talent we should all aspire too!

  3. David on

    Wow! This article not only describes how limiting and debilitating the school system is (from removing arts subject from school and replacing them with STEM subjects, to your college course suggesting that the ‘smart people’ do A-Levels and ‘everyone else’ does vocational courses) but also proposes a really strong argument for not only how we can all move forward by letting our minds become free to explore new areas of interest – whatever that field might be – but also explains that even though our education brings us up as predominantly “science OR humanities”, the real world doesn’t function like this, and that we need critical thinkers and creative minds to support the mechanical and scientific industries. From an alternative point-of-view, I remember once being asked “do you think scientists are creative”, I said no, and yet I had realised that I had pigeon-holed science in the same way that our education pigeon-holes the arts and humanities – why were we educated this way??

    This article stands at such a high quality and covers ideas and topics that were only presented to me at MA in university, where this same topic covered the fact that the world is inherently interdisciplinary and not a set of externally imposed, binary views of what we are good at and interested in, or so-called ‘talented’ at.

    I suddenly feel inspired to try learning something new! Will it be something in science. Maybe? Will it be in the humanities? Maybe? Maybe it’s time that this perceived dichotomy is removed from our minds so that we all can ‘save the world’ as a single unit of shared knowledge, as Charlotte suggest! 🙂


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Subscribe to our newsletter!