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A Future Without Jobs

uch has been written, tweeted, Facebooked, and spoken about the passing of Apple genius, Steve Jobs. I remember Apple computers in school. And I remember my first Macintosh computer that my parents bought me.

The computer housing was gray, and the display was gray-scale. But every time I booted it up, there was a smiling computer icon on the screen, and it made me smile.

That may be the greatest legacy of Steve Jobs – he made people smile. With his guidance, computers became accessible and fun and something anyone of any age could use. Today, we are so connected that it’s almost impossible to ever shut down and relax – even for five minutes. And yet as hectic and crazy as our world is, iPhones and iPads make the work fun.

As I began thinking about what the future might be like without Steve Jobs, I started thinking about Jobs the man—an adopted child who built his first computer in his parents’ garage, dropped out of college, would be forced out of the company he founded only to be brought back years later to save it from the brink of irrelevancy, and who would give us such unfathomed realities as iCloud.

This man was about creativity and innovation.

And since he was, in my book anyway, a genius, our challenge today is to provide an education system that brings creativity and innovation to the fore, so that we can help develop more geniuses or, if not geniuses, a generation of individuals making a positive difference in their various realms of interest and influence.

Today, much is being made of STEM – Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math. And research dollars and financial contributions are pouring in to try and produce better-educated students in these disciplines so that we will have a better-educated workforce.

Many researchers have taken STEM one step further, adding the Arts, and producing STEAM. Many of the leading engineers and scientists working for major companies around the world today have a strong background in the arts, often having college degrees in the visual arts. There is a documented link between the arts and brain development and related ability in math and science.

So, for arts educators, we need to continue focusing our efforts on curriculum development that has the arts as an integral part of the coursework, no matter the subject. Problem-solving and analytical skills develop through the regular infusion of creative arts in the classroom. And while we have all kinds of research that confirm these claims, we are still challenged by many politicians and others who continue to dismiss the arts as fluff.

For those nonbelievers, we need to bring them into our classrooms so that they can experience first-hand how the arts work to spur innovation and creativity.

Perhaps the lesson for politicians, and others of their persuasion who question the value and importance and relevance of the arts, is that arts educators are not spending their time trying to develop the next Rembrandt or Twyla Tharp or Ansel Adams. If that should happen, wonderful, but it’s not the focus!

Steve Jobs dropped out of college because he was bored; however, he returned to the classroom to audit classes that appealed to his sense of creativity and innovation; he took a calligraphy class, and thought that computers ought to be able to reproduce the look of calligraphy. He then set about making that vision a reality.

Arts education is a means not to an end but to a continuation of a journey; a journey of self-discovery and endless possibilities.

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