Dear Deluded Parents,
Ever wondered what life would be like without art? Without music and dance and theatre? There would be no hope, no inspiration—just a colorless existence. Creativity leads us to be better people. Schools and society tell us that in order to have a “nice, comfortable life,” we have to conform to analytical thought processes and become part of the structure. What they don’t understand is that becoming part of the structure halts growth. Yes, engineers and mathematicians build the world, but creative thinkers, dreamers—we make the world.
So why do you struggle to accept that your child wants a fine arts degree? Can you not imagine your sons and daughters—the children you raised to be “better then yourselves”—could possibly want a degree in something that might not have a job guarantee attached to the diploma?
And while I understand you’re stubborn—your kids’ continuous debate and obstinate determination about majoring in poetry or photography had to come from somewhere—there are a few things that should change your mind.
If your child fights hard for your acceptance of their major that’s traditionally viewed as useless, then you know they love it. No one fights hard for something they don’t believe in. You can’t stop your kid from majoring in painting, for example, because you don’t think they’ll get a job once they graduate. If you do? They’ll likely resent you from ripping away the thing that they love.
Did you know that, statistically, your child’s grades will be higher if they study something they love and enjoy? According to McGraw Hill, with increased engagement in a course of study, there is increased retention on the topic. So your kids are learning more and performing better. And it’s not just a GPA that’s at stake. According to The Guardian, “The creative sector is characterized by high levels of job satisfaction.” When a person does something he or she loves, his or her happiness and general outlook on life skyrockets. Don’t you want your child to be happy?
The ubiquitous “they” tell us that in order to succeed we have to work in a field that focuses on science, technology, engineering and math–STEM is what they call it. This buzz word has been drilled into the brains of so many students that fine arts teachers are now working on the STEAM Initiative, a way of incorporating an education in the arts into the STEM acronym. Without art, the innovation that STEM so proudly boasts falters at the lack of creative ideas to innovate.
Moms and Dads, if you’re still on the struggle bus en route to acknowledge your child’s “non-technical” major, a nice compromise is to complement their fine arts degree with another, more “technical” one. While minoring or double majoring increases your child’s workload, it also provides benefits to a future employer. Employers want someone to come in and think differently from the clones they regularly hire. Creative people can thrive pretty much anywhere.
Without an active right brain to keep ideas flowing, the practical aspects of the things you’ve come to care so much about—smartphones, computers, that huge HD flat screen you have in your living room—stay stagnant. Art produces change.
So, to those parents who still think that creative majors are worthless, I’m obviously not going to be able to change your mind. Just know that your kids have to make their own decisions sooner or later, and creativity is a necessary tool that forces our society to keep progressing. Without art, we are nothing.
Future Happy Starving Artists