“It’s hard to resist a slow-moving target. But even if we all agreed that the current educational system is- at least in the arts-a setup for failure, what then? That system, flawed or otherwise, has roots that stretch back a century or more and will likely be with us for decades to come. The school years may be the perfect time to take on large problems, but do you really want to pencil in “Change Basic Premise of Educational System” at the top of your To Do List?
It is , of course, entirely possible to master your craft without any formal education in the arts at all. In his classic book The Shape of Content, Ben Shahn offered his prescription for an ideal education in the arts. In what is arguably the most passionate passage in that book – a full page and a half delivered intirely in italics – Shahn’s appeal to the student can be summed up in two words: do everything! And well you should. A degree in art doesn’t automatically make you an artist, any more than lacking one precludes you from becoming an artist
Despite obvious pitfalls, however,clearly there often ARE good and sometimes even compelling reasons for embracing a formal education in the arts. Beyond the obvious benefit of imparting craft, school offers an environment that supports and values and encourages the work you’re trying to do.. It provides a safe harbor to begin building a network of friends and community that will serve as the life blood to your continued growth as an artist after you leave school. Your teachers provide introductions to ideas, to people, to processes – simply put, they provide you with the opportunity to make discoveries.”