We Love Artists, But Hate Art Education

“Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up.”

-Pablo Picasso


To me, the arts are an indispensable means of expression. In the daily hustle-bustle, art is an escape from the pressure and chaos. You can be anyone and express anything. I, a finance student choose to express myself with the help of my words as well as through the piano.

We live in a creative world. And we teach our students how to be college ready and independent. Creative thinking skills plays a major role here. Art is differentiated in its very nature, and we are propelling towards a culture of more differentiated learning in classrooms. Then wouldn’t it seem that kids would benefit from the creative problem-solving skills learned through being proficient in an art form? This does not necessarily mean that every single child will without question love one of the art disciplines. But it would lead to a much more tranquil as well as developed state of mind.

There is a significant gap between what children are told is important for their future career success and what business leaders actually want from the emerging workforce. Creative individuals are actually in demand. Not just for arts careers, but for careers in business as well.

Let’s face it, in today’s marketplace a university degree is a bare minimum, much like a high school diploma was decades ago. Everyone has a degree…so what? What matters most is what is going to set young people apart from their peers. What is their competitive edge?

If I were the CEO of a company, I’d want people with the technical know-how of a subject, and then I’d want people to provide me with creative solutions. How splendid would it be if I had one person that provided me with both?

Why then, do we consider arts as a soft option? Why are art professionals asked so often,”But when are you getting a real job?”

We revere our cultural icons, whether they are movie stars, literary authors or artists, but we seem to limit the possibility of careers in the arts to only a talented few.

So, why do we put our cultural icons on a pedestal but undervalue arts education? I think one of the reasons is that as a society we are preoccupied with the idea that the arts are reserved only for those with talent. However, in the reality of today’s job market, we need to change this idea.

A few people think that universities should get rid of arts degrees because they provide a safe haven for lazy students. This is of course, because those people are under the assumption that getting a “real” degree is more difficult than getting one in the the field of arts. I am certain that it’s more grinding to teach someone to write poetry rather than teaching him/her/them how to perform open heart surgery. Because while no doubt open heart surgery IS strenuous, there’s a process to be followed. On the other hand, how are you supposed to teach someone to be creative?

As the arts are commonly dismissed with the saying, “there’s no money in that,” perhaps it’s time that we stopped broadly misrepresenting the arts as fluff and realize that art just might be the part of home our education system is lacking. Let’s stop saying “starving artists” and instead look at the fact that we are an educational community that is starving for more art.

Arts not only teach creativity, but also countless other important leadership skills. So, let’s squash the myth of the talented few and embrace the idea that arts education should be for anyone who wants to soar to the top of the interview pile and meet the growing demand for creativity in the marketplace.

PS: Here’s the poem that inspired me to write this piece.

2 thoughts on “We Love Artists, But Hate Art Education

  1. Reading this, I had a point to add.
    Where does one think Apple hires more of its Tech guys from? MIT or the Berkeley School of Music? The answer will shock you–it’s the latter.

    Liked by 1 person

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