CNN commentator Fareed Zakaria recently has argued in favor of a traditional liberal arts education as useful for life in the contemporary US economy. In fact, he thinks the country’s success stems from and its future may rest on Americans’ being educated in this way. He champions “skills fostered by the liberal arts, such as creativity, aesthetic sensibility and social, political and psychological insight.”
We’ve been hearing this line of argument for decades from both educational pundits and, not least, liberal arts colleges themselves. “Creativity”; “Critical thinking skills”; “Independent thought”; “Communication skills”; “Learning how to learn” — these are what we’ve been assured a liberal arts degree stimulates. And we’ve also been assured that once we possess these things, we are equipped to navigate and even thrive in the rest of our lives and careers.
But, Zakaria caused me to ask, is it true? Does a liberal education really cultivate these abilities, and, if so, do they really help us economically? I thought about the commercial activity I see every day around me, and reviewed some of my own work experiences. I concluded that Zakaria doesn’t know what he’s talking about. I think the US economy is designed to thrive when people just shut up and do the work in front of them. GDP rises when people simply earn and consume, not when they have an epiphany about Joseph Conrad.
Here in Washington, DC, where I’ve lived for over ten years, if you do try to do anything creative, if you do in fact possess aesthetic (or, even worse, moral) sensibility, if you deal in any truly original or profound social, political or psychological insight, you will be shunted aside, ridiculed and/or crushed. Here you’re rewarded for showing up and following the many rules. I expect it’s that way in the most of the rest of the USA, too.
The Economic Contribution of Arts and Culture – A CFCP Online Debate
All this week The Centre For Creative Practices are holding an online a discussion / debate about the economic contribution of arts and culture.
The week will include: webinars, blog posts, Twitter Feeds, group discussion and videos on how economic strategists, arts professionals, artists and arts organisations see this economic contribution. Is it sustainable? is it relevant or should we be concentrating of creativity and engagement more than economic contribution?
Get involved, use the hashtag #artseconomyire on Twitter or Facebook and lets get this discussion out there. It’s one we need to have and this is your chance to get involved.
Follow the debate online by clicking here >>
About Platform 1 from CFCP
As part of our artistic entrepreneurship programme we have introduced Platform 1, where each day we will post a snippet of information that we think might be of interest to you and to us.
Please feel free to comment, share, post your own suggestions or snippets as together we can build a repository of information that can benefit everyone on the journey.
Why Platform 1, well every journey has to start somewhere and every station has a platform 1, our departure point.
For more hints & tips see: http://cfcp.ie/platform-1/