Want Your Children to Survive The Future?
Send Them to Art School
If not, you are most likely in for a rude awakening in the coming decades of radical shifts in employment. This is particularly true for new parents propelling the next generation of workers into an adulthood that many economists and futurists predict to be the first ever “post-work” society.
Though the idea of a jobless world may seem radical, the prediction is based on the natural trajectory of ‘creative destruction’ — that classic economic principle by which established industries are decimated when made irrelevant by new technologies.
When was the last time you picked up the hot new single from your local sheet music store? Many moons ago sheet music was the music industry, with the only available means of hearing pop songs being to have a musician read and perform them. This quickly eroded with the advent of the phonograph, leading to a record industry that dominated the last century and is now itself eroding due to the explosive growth of independent online publishing.
It’s hard to justify using a massive workforce of recording engineers, media manufacturers, distributors, and talent scouts to accomplish a task that a musician can now do by herself in an afternoon with just a laptop. The same goes for the millions of skilled labor and manufacturing jobs that will soon be crumpled by 3D printing technology, the thousands of retailers whose staff and storefronts can readily be supplanted by automated delivery systems, or the dwindling hospitality and transportation industries currently being pecked away by app-based sharing services like Airbnb and Uber.
Never heard of 3D printing, ridesharing, or “post-work” theory? That’s okay; you can just Google them. In fact, thanks to Google we may now add the very concept of knowledge itself to our growing list of no-longer-scarce resources. When anyone can access the world’s greatest library from their cellphone, even the long-revered skill of knowing things loses its marketability.
If preparing your kids for a world in which hard-working, knowledgeable people are unemployable frightens you then I have some good news. There is a solution, and it doesn’t involve tired, useless attempts at suppressing technology. Like most good solutions it requires a trait that is distinctly human.
I’m speaking about Creativity.
Any adult reading this at the time of publication came of age in an era when parents urged children to learn a subject that would funnel straight into a specific career field. Even those parents who encouraged their children’s creative dreams did so with an addendum that we should also consider getting a degree in a practical field that “you can always fall back on if sculpture/philosophy/theater/poetry doesn’t work out”. No doubt this protective instinct was a smart one considering the reality of our youth. An arts education might promise a life of self-discovery, but there has always been reasonably assured financial stability in the high-demand arenas of science, education, skilled trades, governments, etc. Surely that dynamic won’t last much longer as more and more physical and mental human tasks are commandeered by machines and software.
I don’t say this to dismiss the importance of any field of study. A world without scientists or doctors or teachers would be just as broken as a world with no artists. Without programmers and engineers the very technologies that make life efficient would quickly disappear. But with the abundance of information and tools freely accessible online to a generation of youngsters equipped with computers from toddlerhood, it’s safe to assume that those who want to maintain current technology have few obstacles in learning how to do so — No degree required. The same goes for any pragmatic skill.
It’s inherently human to want the objects in our lives to communicate feelings and ideas to us and about us. The constant searching for and assignment of meaning dwells in everyone, but the artist is the person who exercises this muscle regularly enough to control it. The person with creative literacy — a basic understanding of the mental, emotional, and sociological tools used for creative thought and communication — is able to find purpose and apply meaning to her world rather than having meaning handed down and purpose assigned to her. The painting student completes his senior thesis exhibit with a head full of many more lessons than just how to paint. He’s now equipped with an ability to see problems, connections, and solutions where others see only a blank surface. I assure you this ability is not limited to the canvas.
I’m not saying anything new here. These qualities of a liberal arts education have been expounded by its proprietors for ages, but with major industries quickly running out of a need for worker bees it’s becoming clearer by the day that our professors were right.
In fact it’s somewhat amazing that this idea was ever in question. Humanity’s highest-paid workers have always been those who as a result of their innovations created opportunity for others to work.
Of course history is also filled with countless stories of equally creative figures lost in the systemic grind of working for the Steve Jobs’s of the world. We’ve all known brilliant people, seemingly not made for our time, whose potential was crushed by dead end jobs after their work was rejected by the film/music/publishing/anything industries. The excuse of being ahead of one’s time can no longer apply though. We live in an age where a person speaking into a webcam can collectively raise hundreds of thousands of dollars just by telling people about a good idea. The gatekeepers are gone and they are not coming back. Our only remaining obstacle can be lack of good ideas.
It’s time for a revolution in education that reflects our new reality and gives students the necessary tools to survive it. Technological advancements will always outpace the offerings of the traditional classroom, making it entirely purposeless to force memorization of knowledge that may become irrelevant before children even graduate. Instead we should hone the skill that best ensures adaptability and resourcefulness during times of constant change.
But what about STEM?
Does this revolution require us to toss out math or science or history? Does my ideal future classroom wedge would-be physicists into an endless curriculum of figure drawing classes?
Let children pursue their own interests and they will find their way to all areas of study as part of the exploratory process. Let the child who is in love with fire trucks continue to obsess over fire trucks. With proper guidance he will soon find himself learning civics, engineering, history, physics, chemistry, sociology, economics, and everything in between — all of his questions fueled by a simple aesthetic attachment to the pretty red fire truck.
No healthy child is born without an innate sense of wonder about their world. However, this childhood compulsion to explore is a bud quickly snipped by adults conditioned to fear the unknown. The tradition of discouraging unusual questions and behavior in children is so pervasive that we have come to view those who survive with their creativity intact as having a “gift”. What is more absurd is our amazement at the correlation of great artists and mental illness, as if the battle for self-expression which artists so tenaciously endure has no causal link to their psychic well-being.
The change that will secure your children’s safe passage through the future comes when we strip creativity of its mysterious, unearthly status. Artists are not magical geniuses. We are simply people who were either privileged enough or stubborn enough to hold onto something that every living person is “gifted” at birth. Assume that your children have limitless creative potential and begin to nurture it. Assume that your children’s ingenuity is the one true safety net available in times of rapid change. Send your kids to art school and they will have exactly what they need to become anything they might need to be.
I speak from experience.
Dustin Timbrook is an artist in Huntsville, Alabama who works in many mediums and creative fields. He currently serves as Media Director of America’s largest independent arts facility, Lowe Mill ARTS & Entertainment, and is Creative Director for the marketing company Red Brick Strategies.
He is co-founder of Happenin Records, an Alabama record label that helps finance, produce, and promote dozens of independent musical acts.
He is also founder of the Huntsville Artist Engineer Network, and co-founder of STE(A)M Fest, an annual event that promotes creativity in the STEM subjects to thousands of Huntsville students.
He has a Masters in Education from University of Montevallo, but had to fall back on his painting degree when public education didn’t work out.
Originally published at www.rocketcitymom.com on February 10, 2015.
A GIFT TO ALL US STUDENTS!
Arts in Education Returns via OR Rep Bonamici, Turns STEM to STEAM!
As you may know, congressional education leaders began a series of face-to-face meetings two weeks ago to hammer out remaining differences between House and Senate bills to reform K-12 education. The committee completed their work this afternoon.
In a conference committee meeting on November 19, arts education had a breakthrough moment. U.S. Representative Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR) offered an amendment to integrate the arts into the nation’s STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) programs. Rep. Bonamici, a co-chair of the Congressional STEAM Caucus, has tried to offer similar amendments in previous legislative efforts.
This is of particular significance because her amendment was unanimously adopted by voice vote by the joint House-Senate Conference Committee during today’s mark-up of the final ESEA bill. The bill next goes to the House and Senate for final (and likely) passage in early December before landing on the President’s desk.
After many years of anticipation, this bipartisan legislation will set new K-12 education policies impacting the nation’s 100,000 schools across the country.
Rep. Bonamici is the Co-Chair of the Congressional STEAM Caucus, a member of the House Education and Workforce Committee, and a proud recipient of Arts Action Fund PAC support.
This amendment advances the status of the arts in the nation’s K-12 education system impacting 100,000 schools, 3 million teachers and 50 million students.
This amendment’s success comes on the heels of a Congressional STEAM Caucus event on Capitol Hill last week recognizing eight schools for their work to incorporate the arts along with STEM subjects.
There will be more legislative news to share on this Elementary & Secondary Education Act rewrite when the bill text is made available November 30th. Stay tuned for final votes as soon as the first week of December, bringing a new federal K-12 education law to the next generation of students.
Art 4 Joy: Fun Arts Program Opens in Central Point
Create Fun Art!
Central Point, November 18, 2015: “Sip and Paint” classes have been spreading across the U.S. like wild fire, but more often than not these venues are limited to availability in larger cities. “Sip and Paint” classes are a new social scene for adults who enjoy painting in a social atmosphere often served up with alcoholic (and non-alcoholic) beverages while guests are guided through a pre-determined painting project from start to finish in about 2 hours. At these events all supplies are included for the project and guests go home with their finished “masterpieces”.
Kim Samitore, Art Director/Owner of Art 4 Joy, located in Central Point has brought big city fun to small town America in the heart of downtown Central Point! Art 4 Joy, which offers not only “sip and paint” style classes but a full schedule of youth programs, quietly opened their doors Oct. 12, 2015, at 63 S. 4th Street in Central Point. Samitore chose to start her company as a grassroots project,rather than buying into the popular franchises offering similar services so that she could bring arts and crafts to children and adults of all ages within the Rogue Valley with her own unique program plan!
In late November 2015, Samitore moved her business to a larger location just around the corner at 425 Oak Street in Central Point (still located in 4 Oaks Centre) to accommodate for the community’s growing desire of different class offerings. Art 4 Joy has classes for children 5 years old and under that focus on tactile and motor skill development through creative art play, as well as weekly youth painting classes for first grade on up. Other classes offered include classes for Seniors 55+, some of which have never painted before, but are very excited to learn! Jim DeKorte (73), Samitore’s father, has Parkinson’s Disease and enjoys his art classes as his tremors subside and his cognition increases during art class. Other Seniors attend for increased social activity, for relaxation or mood elevation, etc. “Art is very therapeutic for mind, body and spirit,” says Samitore. She feels strongly that art classes can be an important part of a healthy lifestyle no matter what age or experience level you have. “Studies have shown that art is a valuable therapy for stress, anxiety, depression and more. Our classes are very social and always educational in a fun way, so whether a guest is young or young at heart, they leave with very positive feelings,” says Samitore.
Samitore has been fielding calls and emails for work parties, birthday parties, potential partnerships with local schools and non-profits who provide services to foster care children and more. Her goal is the bring art back to the community due to reduced art activities within the schools and to inspire adults to take a night out for social time in a new and fun way that is different and healthy for body, mind and spirit. She wants to help people feel good about themselves through creativity.
Art 4 Joy is currently working with the City of Central Point’s Recreation Department to expand their arts and crafts offerings during Community Christmas, scheduled for Dec. 5th, 2015. Art 4 Joy will be open to the public for free arts and crafts to all kiddos who attend Community Christmas, just 1 block east of City Hall so that families can enjoy the celebration a little longer where they can get out of the cold.
Samitore recently retired from teaching horse back riding lessons at Samitore Stables, also of Central Point, to children and adults with and without disabilities/learning/behavior disorders since 2005, to pursue her other love in life – CREATIVITY! She hopes to keep working with special needs children and adults as well as those without them. “What’s neat about this new learning opportunity is that no level of physical fitness, or experience is required and fees are lower (than horse back riding) so I can work with a larger population within our community,” says Samitore. She loves teaching and sharing the joy of expanding one’s horizons of what’s possible when you give something new a try!
Samitore is planning a Grand Opening/Christmas Open House in December (TBD), as well as a ribbon cutting ceremony (still to be scheduled) with the Central Point Chamber of Commerce.
Photo Opportunity: Saturday, November 21, 2015, 4:30-6:30pm, a promotional free class will be held at Art 4 Joy to introduce the community to our Taste and Create classes.
The Arts Alliance of Southern Oregon Fall 2015 Community Meeting
held last week in Medford was informative and fun- thank you to all who attended.
It was a great opportunity to strengthen our arts community, we shared the new logo design and tag line “The Artist Network” and unveiled the new rack cards.
From now through the end of 2015, Arts Alliance of Southern Oregon will continue to build membership (only $20 for 2015!) Please spread the word- we are now up to 60 members and growing strong!
Our new rack card is hot off the presses! All Charter Members, please contact us to get your stack of 50 (or more!) 10,000 rack cards have been printed and are available-anyone willing is encouraged to help distribute them. They turned out beautifully and feature artwork and logos from Charter Members. Please email us when you place them in certain locations so we can track and organize our outreach efforts.
To stay informed and to share your art happenings and events, please tune into our Facebook page and website. Share your pages and events on the Arts Alliance of Southern Oregon Facebook https://www.facebook.com/ArtsAllianceSO or email [email protected].
BONUS!! Arts Alliance Member BENEFITS:
Get 25% off all Rogue Valley Symphony tickets! Ask for Jane Kenworthy at the box office/ concert. Here is the link to current performances: http://www.rvsymphony.org
Art Inspires Ashland
November 12–15 in Ashland, Oregon –register atwww.artinspiresashland.org
ARTS ALLIANCE OF SOUTHERN OREGON MEMBERS RECEIVE DISCOUNTED RATE! SIGN UP FOR KEVIN OR GREGG’S WORKSHOP AND RECEIVE A COMPLIMENTARY TICKET TO THE YOU ARE A WORK OF ART PANEL/DISCUSSION ON FRIDAY NIGHT. More details below…
Don’t forget to share your events, call to artists, inspiration, and more, keeping Arts Alliance of Southern Oregon: The Artist Network active and robust. Together, we are helping our arts community thrive!
On July 28th, Hillary Clinton expressed her support for arts education at a town hall meeting in Nashua, New Hampshire. The presidential candidate responded to a question about education with an answer that featured great enthusiasm for the arts.
She remarked how valuable it was that she had an opportunity to sing in a chorus and participate in drama and visual arts classes in school. “But the point is when you remove the arts you really hurt kids who learn that way!”
Watch the portion of the town hall meeting where she speaks about arts education below and then continue the conversation on social media using this sample tweet:
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