More and more parents are pushing their children into the hard sciences and making them believe that the only viable career choices for them are a doctor, lawyer, or engineer. Students are picking majors in business, biochemistry, and political science over theatre, English, and art. And if you do enjoy business, biochemistry, or political science and truly want to pursue that, then more power to you. The world needs people like you. But we also need people that want to pursue theatre, English, and art. We keep telling our children that they can’t pursue the arts because they won’t have a job or won’t be able to make a living and the fact is that that’s not true.
As an English major, I’m constantly being asked if I want to teach. Or if they’re polite enough to ask what I really want to do, it’s with a doubtful grimace. People don’t believe that you can get a job outside teaching if you choose a major in the arts. Then you’ll only teach children to go on to get the same major and become a teacher like you so that they can later teach children to do the same thing as them and so on. Only a few of you will find jobs out of teaching and those of you that do, even less will be able to support themselves without taking on a second job. But that isn’t true.
First off, there’s plenty of jobs outside of teaching and education. Journalism, graphic design, screenwriting, directing, editing, publishing, illustration, sketch artist. There are so many different avenues you can take. You just have to look at your options and think about what you really want to do. Don’t settle for something you’re not happy with, even if it means you get to sort of use your major or maybe do it on the side.
Second, arts majors give you skills that the hard sciences don’t. They can teach you how to observe. They can teach you how to write. They can teach you how to be patient and how to revise and re-revise. They teach you how to deal with theories and subjective arguments. Even if you’re a science or business major, a major in the arts can help you approach science or business in a new way and give you an advantage that many others lack.
And last, we need creative people. A major in the arts teaches creativity and that can help in any area of life whether you’re a scientist, a stay-at-home mom, or a teacher. We need story-tellers. We need artists. We need performers. These are the things that make life enjoyable when it gets difficult. Yes, science, and medicine, and business are all necessary. But, think of how boring our world would be without story-tellers, artists, and performers. So stop telling your children, friends, and fellow classmates that their passions are pointless. Stop telling them that they can’t make a living or that they’ll get sucked into a meaningless desk job or become a teacher even though they hate kids. Just sit back and give them the chance to blow your mind.