Ken Robinson, Education Reform, American Education Costs, & My General Ranting on Creative Career Prospects

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Of all the things I could have possibly gathered from my education in Design Thinking so far, I have caught Ken Robison fever. In the past weeks I’ve watched every Robinson lecture I could find online, and as I write this now a copy of his “The Element: How Finding Your Passion Changes Everything” current resides on my desk. I have found a way to quote Sir Robinson in every class I take at Kingston, and I’m sure the next time I open with one of Ken’s ideas, I’ll be met with a “God, why don’t you just marry the guy already?” My answer? “I would, but I don’t think his wife would appreciate it.”

I have never thought of education in the ways that Robinson has explained. Yes, there is a definite need for education reform, and yes, as an artist I do believe that creative education is a vital role in shaping the mind. However “education reform” has always be explained, to be rectifiable by funding and enhanced professor quality, I had never heard the solutions Ken Robinson suggests, and now that I have, I see them as the only possible pathways.

In 6 years of university education, multiple classes on education, and a multitude of educational and creative related budget cuts, bestowed upon the State of New Jersey by our adored and loved Governor  Chris Christie (I hope you caught the sarcasm there) it is hard to believe that not once have the beginnings of public education been explained to students. It’s as if public education is this fixed system, that through hard times can only be rectified through funding. If you aren’t pleased with it’s turnouts, then you’re expected to put up quite a lot of dough in private schooling, which can cost you as much as a University education, which is of course to follow.

The average cost of private schooling in America is roughly $10,045, according to the “Council for American Private Education” in 2010, however this number can range anywhere from roughly $6,018 to as high as $17,316. A YEAR.

This means that at the end of a 4 year high school education, parents can anticipate spending over $40,000 before their child has even stepped foot in a University. If their child intends on attending University (which is the inevitable goal of private education) they can expect to pay about $21,447 dollars A YEAR for a public In-State University OR $42,224 dollars A YEAR for a Private or Out of State University, according to CNN Money in 2011.

Now, lets do the Math.

Assuming the prospective student has attended a private high school for ONLY 4 years due to a deteriorating public education system to increase their chances of getting into a good University.

And they happen to live in the SAME state as their prospective University.

They can expect to pay MINIMUM (including books and board):

$40,000 + $21,447 x 4 = $125,788.

Yah, really.

Lets not even discuss food, transportation, or any other educational or living expenses, the thought is just too much to bear.

Now with the average starting salaries, according to simplyhired.com, being at about $46,000 after graduation, which I truly find hard to believe, (I think the number is far lower).

And the average loan repayment of the above minimum cost estimate (assuming the $40,000 is already paid by University graduation) is $17,082, A YEAR, according to the University of Michigan’s Office of Financial Aid. This does not leave much to cover the cost of living.

And ALL OF THIS is assuming the graduating student CAN EVEN FIND A JOB, which according to the”Huff Post Business” in 2012, about half did not.

Now picture yourself one of these prospective university students, knowing full well what payments await you when you graduate, what do you study? You may be a talented dancer, actor, musician, or writer, but with a degree in the arts the expectation of finding a job after graduation is even less than half, holding the 2nd highest unemployment rate with 11.1 % of all graduates with artistic degrees, the chances are you’ll be spending many of your post graduation years in your parents basement, bartending at the local student hangout. But hey! In America they tip, so maybe your perspectives aren’t that bad.

But, if you haven’t spent your high school years fantasizing about living in a cardboard box, you’ll probably study something practical, like healthcare, computer science, engineering, or accounting. All subject areas with excellent employment rates, all not relatively creative.

And so where are the creative prospects? The majority of students are steered away from the thought of creative careers throughout their life’s education, through budget cuts and job perspectives, why induce a child’s creative potential when the outlook on creative careers are so grim? For God’s sake don’t hand that child a trumpet! Do you want him to starve?? Here, let him play with this nice calculator, he’ll love it.

And so this rant may have started with the need for education reform and focus on creativity in the classroom to push out the next generation of great thinkers, capable of solving the devastations we’ve brought upon the planet. But it ends with the need for affordable education with incentive to focus on the arts, available for everyone, if the education is not available, whats the sense in reforming it?

-end rant-

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Frieze Art Fair

On October 12th, we attended ‘Frieze Fair’ in Regents Park, London. Considered the contemporary art event of the year, with over 170 works from Tokyo to New York, this was truly a haven for those keen on experiencing the up and comings in todays art world.

Multiple pieces were not only thought provoking, but aesthetically stimulating, one in particular was the live crime scene production, where the audience followed along by script. However, many pieces I felt, fell on the border of what can be defined as art. Although the crime scene was entertaining, could this be considered art, or theatre? There were also multiple “interactive” pieces that required audio or visual assistance though various screens, was this art, or film? And furthermore, are auditory, theatrical, and cinematic crafts considered art? Or can only “artistic elements” be found in these crafts? Were the purpose of these pieces to lead to such questions? Or should we just shut up and appreciate the visual stimulation without thought of definition? Just as we debated in our “Contemporary Issues” module, attempting to define the “Creative Industries” only lead to lack of definition, so perhaps “Contemporary Art” is beyond categorizing as well. Perhaps the only defining matter, is the emotional response from the audience. And as with defining the “Creative Industries”, if consumer response is the tier of relevance, then is there any point in debating?

Maybe this guy has the right idea.

(Found him at the fair, he reminded me of how I’ll probably feel after completing a one year masters program.)

Personal opinions aside, these artists deserve recognition and their moment in the spotlight. They have accomplished both artistically and professionally, a balance that must be held if any creative entrepreneur seeks to succeed in today’s world. Talent can only get you so far, an understanding of the business world is crucial in taking you the rest.