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Wednesday, September 28, 2016

How Art History Majors Power The U.S. Economy

Jan. 6 (Bloomberg) — There’s nothing like a bunch of unemployed recent college graduates to bring out the central planner in parent-aged pundits.

In a recent column for Real Clear Markets, Bill Frezza of the Competitive Enterprise Institute lauded the Chinese government’s policy of cutting financing for any educational program for which 60 percent of graduates can’t find work within two years. His assumption is that, because of government education subsidies, the U.S. is full of liberal-arts programs that couldn’t meet that test.

  • BettyDoolittleTuininga

    Apparently Ms.Ponstel has never sat in on a good art history class…
    I returned to college after raising two children and putting them through college. I had worked a full-time job and three part-time jobs to support my family as a single mom, now was my chance to do something for myself.
    I completed four years of a BA in Graphic Design, with a minor in Art History, in three years. Taking six courses a semester and attending summer classes which was very difficult. I was age 50 when I returned to the classroom and this schedule was no easy feat nor was the work itself. I was on the Dean’s list every semester, I received commendations in Who’s Who in America’s College’s and University’s, won a scholarship from The Children’s Literature Festival (Authors and Illustrators) and I left there with insatiable love for art and teaching. At age 53, I was accepted as a Grad student in the History of Art and Architecture program at Binghamton University in New York State.
    I don’t know where Ms. Ponstel gets this simplistic view of Art History and what it entails. Frankly, I learned a tremendous amount of world history, political science, and sociology in my art history classes. This could be why the classes in most universities now make the credits interchangeable. The lessons learned in art history are far beyond the art itself, they cannot stand alone without the historical, and sociological background information. Perhaps she believes as some do, that we should stop teaching even history , etc… and just teach the technological courses.
    I had an Art History professor who had taught for years. His reputation has been disseminated near and far. He could make the most boring of subject matter exciting and often students would ask to take his Intro course based solely on his reputation for excellence. Now 10 years later I still run into people who had him for one of their classes and they all say, “He made such a difference in my life.” Wouldn’t it have been a shame if he had never become an art history professor!

  • Steve Langenecker

    As an art teacher, I certainly need no convincing of the power of art in the market place. As I tell my design students, everything we see, buy, use, and feel is designed. Designers are experts in art history. Without these rich and extraordinary historical, sociological, and aesthetic references, today’s designers would be staring at a blank canvas and our market place would have little of practical or emotional value to sell. Our society may or may not value arts education, but it evidently won’t pay for it. The business and economics major would do well to take and art history class. The most intuitive among them will quickly see how this knowledge will benefit them when selling their widgets.

    Then there are the skills today’s employers seek which are only developed through a marriage of traditional core subjects with a strong arts education. Where else but in an art room can kids learn to creatively solve problems and to use their critical thinking? Stem does you no good if you are only learning the right answers to essential questions but not having the skills to think beyond what is already known in order to solve the world’s unsolved problems. Another skill easily taught in art is collaboration. I build collaboration and communication into my arts curriculum. The kids don’t understand it at first, but eventually they see they value in working together and learning from each other. They begin to understand the modern workplace they’ll be part of looks very much like an art classroom: 30 individuals creating 30 different solutions to the same problem. All high school kids should be required to take art history–the best history teachers know why and they incorporate it into their curriculum.

  • Steve Langenecker

    As an art teacher, I certainly need no convincing of the power of art in the market place. As I tell my design students, everything we see, buy, use, and feel is designed. Designers are experts in art history. Without these rich and extraordinary historical, sociological, and aesthetic references, today’s designers would be staring at a blank canvas and our market place would have little of practical or emotional value to sell. Our society may or may not value arts education, but it evidently won’t pay for it. The business and economics major would do well to take and art history class. The most intuitive among them will quickly see how this knowledge will benefit them when selling their widgets.

    Then there are the skills today’s employers seek which are only developed through a marriage of traditional core subjects with a strong arts education. Where else but in an art room can kids learn to creatively solve problems and to use their critical thinking? Stem does you no good if you are only learning the right answers to essential questions but not having the skills to think beyond what is already known in order to solve the world’s unsolved problems. Another skill easily taught in art is collaboration. I build collaboration and communication into my arts curriculum. The kids don’t understand it at first, but eventually they see they value in working together and learning from each other. They begin to understand the modern workplace they’ll be part of looks very much like an art classroom: 30 individuals creating 30 different solutions to the same problem. All high school kids should be required to take art history–the best history teachers know why and they incorporate it into their curriculum.

  • cemab4y

    Japanese high school students take physics and calculus, and other difficult subjects. But every Japanese high-schooler also must take calligraphy, interpretive dance, art, and other “soft” subjects, to balance their education. I am 1000% for this.

  • EATHERICH

    an educated, aware electorate is the nightmare of our government. if you are not born into the club, your hopefully not going to be able to afford a collage degree. the education of working class students has always been a threat to the controllers of any totalitarin state.

  • joeturner

    Do you really believe that a “skills” education prepares you to step into a “skills” job without any on-the-job training? Everything that I learned that allowed me to work I learned on the job. Even with my “skills” classes in college, I still learned on the job. In the UK, they are allowing college graduates who have had no education classes in college to step into a classroom and teach. The program has met with success, and it illustrates that one learns primarily on the job.

  • IndyDMan

    I am the son of a hard working factory worker. I grew up in a blue collar town. I’m the first in my immediate family to even see the inside of a college classroom. I graduated with a BFA in “Visual Communications” from a small art school affiliated with Indiana University. You have to start somewhere. Except for one thirty day break and another four month break out of work,(I’ve never taken unemployement.) I’ve moved steadily up the ladder. I’m in the top 2% of wage earners in the US and have been for over a decade. We put both our kids through college.
    We don’t need people to tell us what to do. We need people to help us make our own way, use our own talents and develop our own unique skills. Central planning sucks, whether by a well-meaning theo-fascist or some communist state agency.

  • kurt.lorentzen

    I don’t mean that title literally, just though it would catch the attention of the academics here 🙂 For those of you who made good (into the top 2% of wage earners) via a liberal arts degree – I applaud you. But look at “SteveLangenecker”, who is an art teacher. He is employed by the government (taxpayers) and/or college tuition payers. “BettyDoolittleT” completed a rich and personally fulfilling course in art history, but doesn’t mention that it generated any employment for her. She lauds her professor – as I respect and admire many teachers and professors throughout my academic experience, but once again this professor is paid through taxes and/or from academia. “IndyDMan” makes great income, but doesn’t say where he is employed (government? A niche industry with only a few employment opportunities at his income level?). The author is right-on in her analysis that skills should be developed that are most likely to find a market. She also points out that government equally subsidizing any and every field of study, regardless of likely employment outcome offers some false sense that any college degree will lead to a well-paying job. Many liberal arts degrees (certainly not all) are based on employment through government or government-funded foundations and institutions. No one realizes more than me the importance of artists in the establishment of civilization. They are the dreamers, the inventors, the visionaries – we need them. But in a debt-financed economy, those funds are likely to dry up – and soon. Technology is the only sector that consistently met or exceeded expectations in the 4th quarter 2010 (Cisco, Intel, Microsoft, etc.). It’s clear that tech will be the leading the economic force going into the foreseeable future. As Americans, we don’t like being told what we can/can’t or should/shouldn’t do. But the reality is that having a bunch of qualified people for whom there are no jobs won’t help anyone – and the taxpayers are, once again, left picking up the tab for their education and their unemployment benefits.

  • dpaano

    I went to college and got 6 degrees…one in Admin. of Justice; another in Television Production, another in Criminal Justice, another in Anthropology, and a dual Masters in International Business/Human Relations. Unfortunately, I’m doing the same job I was doing while I put myself through college….working as an executive assistant to the VP of a large company. But, I got most of my education for my own satisfaction….if I was ever to get a job in one of those fields, I would be thrilled; however, I’m happy doing what I’m doing now. Believe it or not, some of my education has definitely helped me in my long career…education of ANY type certainly doesn’t hurt anyone in the long run (although I DO wish I could have learned to be a plumber – LOL)!!