Art à la carte

I’m reading Daniel Pink’s A Whole New Mind. I’ve been meaning to read it for awhile, and much of it is as I expected.  Pink writes about the relative functions of the right and left sides of the brain and how the two sides will play increasingly complementary roles in human profession and pursuit.  But I didn’t anticipate numbers like these:

“In the United States, the number of graphic designers has increased tenfold in a decade; graphic designers outnumber chemical engineers by four to one.  Since 1970, the United States has 20 percent more people earning a living as writers and 50 percent more earning a living by composing or performing music… More Americans today work in arts, entertainment, and design than work as lawyers, accountants, and auditors.”

 Daniel Pink is quick to assure his readers that we shouldn’t start insisting that everyone become a graphic designer or go to art school. Society won’t function on art alone.  We’ll still use chemical engineers, and lawyers, and, of course, auditors.  He’s saying that the strengths of the right brain are more and more valued in professions that we’ve traditionally considered non-creative.  And that there are more and more jobs in creative professions (as well as more creative professions).

I’m hoping that as it becomes harder to deny that artistic skill is marketable, we’ll stop relegating art to the peripheries of kids’ lives.  I don’t think it’s enough to insist on restored funding so that art (along with other less respected pursuits that have been similarly trimmed) can once again be offered as a side dish to the main courses of traditional academic subject areas.  We’ll also need to start taking kids’ drawing and building and designing as seriously as we take their reading and calculating and spelling and memorizing.

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