Recently I overheard a conversation deriding the arts.
I sat unassumingly minding my own business when words began raising my blood pressure as they seemingly grew in volume. A loud opinionated individual was ranting to someone about the waste of theatre and how all the elitist people think they’re doing something worthwhile.
Spoiler alert: They are.
The actual topic at hand was in regards to an assumed massive overspending resulting from a child beginning a collegiate career in pursuit of the <GASP> humanities <hand to forehead, dramatic swoon>.
To those who truly believe art in any form is a worthless pursuit:
- Have you ever read a book?
- Have you ever watched a movie?
- Have you ever smiled at a performance?
- Have you ever enjoyed a photograph?
- Have you ever mused over the meaning of a painting?
- Have you ever danced like no one’s watching?
- Have you ever related to a song?
- Have you ever played a video game?
For those smugly answering no – it must be rough to have no joy in your life…
For the better part of the past 50 years, the implication has been that studying liberal arts or the humanities was a waste of time or, at the very least, an unwise path for college students.
Go to college to get a degree to get a job.
I remember having just such a conversation when I called my parents from my 11th floor freshman dorm room to gleefully inform them I was declaring a theatre major. The response was less than enthusiastic. The compromise was my double major in communications.
So am I a starving artist? Did I waste that precious tuition and time on a failed attempt to join the Hollywood elite?
I never even tried.
I certainly don’t discount the importance of STEM subjects; they are crucial to furthering developments for the quality of life to which we’ve become accustomed. As often mentioned in the TechMom Tuesday columns, I work in the tech industry here in the heart of Silicon Valley.
But the naked truth is that for all but the rare outliers, higher education is not a how-to section in the instruction manual of life. Instead, it teaches the open-minded the art of critical thinking – how to cultivate a garden of common sense in otherwise barren soil.
The arts help us understand the progression of science, technology, engineering and mathematical/medical. They allow us to imagine what the future might hold. And how to express those possibilities to the people who can make it happen.
As the arts are further stripped from early education, students focus on “testable” subjects. But so what?
- Math enhances your ability to create music.
- Science enhances your ability to manipulate the movement of your body.
- Reading enhances your ability to flee this world for the adventure of imagination.
The humanities strengthen our ability to play nice in the sandbox with others. I got my first real job because of my degree – as one of many communications majors to apply for a communications job, it was my theatre degree that gave me a unique edge.
I could tell a story.
Life is short. Live it. Enjoy it. Create. Explore what the world has to offer. The arts surround you – even if you’re angered by their existence.
For the college kids out there – go for it.
- Major in Theatre.
- Major in Dance.
- Major in Music.
- Major in Art.
It is worthwhile. The only waste is one who is to closed-minded to care.
Do you feel this post is overly dramatic? Oh well, I was an arts major after all…