Would you believe me if I said that growing up, I was constantly reminded that drawing is not actually a career? Would you believe that I was commended on my marks at school in a different way than how I was commended on my artistic ability? Of course you would.
This Ted Talk looks at how the many general systems of schooling stifle creativity. How school prioritizes our ‘intelligence’ in one strict definition of the word, and encourages only the skills that are likely to be lucrative. It goes something like this…
You’re good at Math? Great.
You get A’s in Science? Wonderful.
You do well in Business? Lovely.
You receive good marks in Religion? That’s alright, depending on your religion and where you live.
You’re succeeding in English class? Don’t be stupid enough to do a degree in that.
You excel in Art? You know most artists don’t make much money until they’re dead, right?
You’re skilled in music? Do you know how unlikely it is that you’ll ever get anywhere?
You’re a talented actor? C’mon. Get a real job.
From the beginning of high school, we’re judged on our ability to potentially make money. We’re groomed to pursue ‘useful’ skills. Encouraged to do things that look good on a resume, as opposed to what we actually enjoy.
I know that people need to find a job so they can support themselves and be productive members of society. That’s important. But you also can’t spend your entire life ignoring your skills or passions just because they’re not STEM.
STEM is important, and nobody is going to deny that.
But if your skills don’t fit into those four areas, that doesn’t mean that you don’t have anything to offer.
We’re more than our high school subjects, our degrees and our resumes, just like we’re more than our Instagram followers.
The difference, however, is that no one is actually sitting there defining you on the latter, but they are judging you in terms of the former. And people sitting in an office with the power to provide you employment actually are actually judging you based on your resume.
So it’s pretty hard to not feel defined by a piece of paper, even though it doesn’t even begin to cover who you actually are.
It breaks my heart to hear people say that they’re “not smart” just because they’re not a straight-A student.
You’re good with your hands, and can make flat pack furniture without a major meltdown? You’re smart.
You always remember people’s names and birthdays, think to ask about their kids, and are actually good at making people feel special and remembered? You’re smart.
You can take incredible photos that put most people’s camera rolls to shame? You’re smart.
You’re really organized and good at getting people to work together and get things done? You’re smart.
You can change a tire, check filters and fix things around the house? You’re smart.You likely spent thirteen years being told otherwise, but we’re all smart, regardless of what our talents are.
You likely spent thirteen years being told otherwise, but we’re all smart, regardless of what our talents are.