“Computers are the future.”
I hear these words forever droning inside my head.
Resonating in the halls of the school.
“The only good jobs are in science”
Echoing in my ears.
Seared inside my brain.
Technology and science are in every aspect of our lives. We carry phones, rockets are being sent up to space, and STEM is being integrated into our school curriculums.
Don’t get me wrong, I believe science and technology are extremely important. However, I notice an increasing stigma against creativity and artistic attributes in today’s increasingly technological age. This stigma is not only extremely prevalent in society, but also in education. As education expert Ken Robinson explains in a 2006 Ted Talk, “ We don’t grow into creativity, we grow out of it. Or rather, we get educated out of it.”
This trend can be seen throughout the school career. In elementary schools, Art programs are part of our everyday schedules. But as we move through the grades, art is slowly being pulled from our curriculum, slowly being replaced by textbooks and writing.
In middle school, creative projects are pulled entirely from the curriculum. Creative narrative writing is replaced by essays. If you want to take art, all you can do is hope that you get the small chance out of the many other electives on the wheel.
High school is the time to think about your career, what you really want to do in life. Now it’s a race to get the most AP and Honors classes into your schedule. It’s a battle figuring out what your GPA means, how to raise your rank, or how to maintain your A.
But what about art?
Oh, there are art classes. Plenty. In fact, there’s an art requirement to graduate high school. But what about if you want to take more art classes?
Then, well, say goodbye to a higher GPA. Say goodbye to a spot higher up the ranks. Because there’s always an AP or Honors course you could have taken in its place.
These ideologies have deeper consequences than what meets the eye. As Ken Robinson explains, “Many highly-talented, brilliant, creative people think they’re not, because the thing they were good at at school wasn’t valued, or was actually stigmatized.”
Today, schools and society exemplify STEM as the only place where students can succeed. Art is set aside as simply a hobby, something only for free time. And I understand where this ideology comes from. Without breakthroughs in the STEM fields, the human race would have never been able to survive or reach the heights that it has today. But treating these fields as the only achievements that have allowed humans to thrive. It provides a skewed image that science and tech are all that have mattered throughout human history, and art is either a passtime or an ancient relic made thousands of years ago.
But, for a moment, let’s imagine the world without art.
Imagine a world without paintings hanging on the walls in museum.
Imagine a world without the Lascaux Caves, Venus figurines and other ancient art forms.
Imagine a world without Hollywood. Without Disney, Dreamworks or other entertainment companies. Without literature. Good food. Nice clothes. Color. Stylish cars. Innovative aesthetic designs for houses or tech. Makeup. Dance. Television. Music. All of it. Gone.
It’s hard to imagine a world void of any sort of imagination or culture. Marking these activities as simply pastimes takes all of these achievements for granted, hiding the thought and effort that went into creating such masterpieces, and discouraging people with aspirations to have creative careers. By now, humans should understand that the world is not black and white. In the same way, science and art should be practiced hand in hand. We have proof all around us of the amazing things that can come from this harmony. Portraying one as more essential than the other provides a skewed image and creates a stigma against the other.
“Our education system has mined our minds in the way that we strip-mine the earth: for a particular commodity. And for the future, it won’t serve us. We have to rethink the fundamental principles on which we’re educating our children,” states Robinson. To truly solve this problem, we have to revolutionize the way we educate people, and abolish the ever-present stigma against the arts.
While we can’t change this stigma overnight, it’s important that we fight it. Recognize the impact that art has made in your life, and appreciate it. Find a balance between both the factual and imaginative aspects of life. Other things we can do is regard art classes as more than simply graduation requirements, but as classes that teach us fundamental life skills.
Society as a whole needs to recognize the impact that the arts have made on this world. When the stigma against the arts persists, it voids and silences the creative voices of the people. It’s time that we embrace the creative side of society, embracing a colorful and amazing world with it.