My daughter recently graduated from college. I’ve been through “the system.” And we didn’t come out unscathed.
I sent my daughter to one of the best schools in Colorado. Even as a public high school, it was ranked in the top three in the state – along with a couple of privates.
It has a reputation for being tough. It’s known for turning out the best in the community. Several “celebrities” in the Rocky Mountain region trusted it for their own kids. In order to graduate, you had to have an acceptance to a school to further your education.
At graduation, they touted to the attendees how well their high school performed. How many AP tests were taken. How much scholarship money the class had been awarded.
Yep, these were the brightest kids, just itching for amazing futures. They were off to far-reaching places of the world – Harvard, Princeton, Yale. It was enough to make your head spin.
I sent my daughter for all the right reasons. Looking backward, a new reality has set in.
Somewhere in the middle of her four years, her outlook began to change. My very creative daughter suddenly changed. She’d always been into stories. She wanted to publish books. She wanted to be involved in theater, writing. She was my little creative.
But suddenly a new reality set in. Math. Science. AP this. AP that. The pressure was intense.
I begged and pleaded with her to avoid and ignore the Calcu-Trigo-Metric whatever the hell those intense science and math classes were called. For the science-minded kids – hurrah! Push them as far as they can go. But my daughter wasn’t science-minded. She was humanities-based, through and through.
Take creative writing. Sign up for a painting class. Do something just to be creative …
But that doesn’t pay …
STEM SCHMEM – It’s time to kiss it goodbye
Yep, I’ve held this viewpoint for many years now. And I expect a lot of flack for this post – I’ve received a lot for other things I’ve written. America is hell-bent on converting every school into STEM.
And I get it, I do. I agree that every child should be exposed to science, tech, engineering, and math.
But not every person is good at science, tech, engineering, and math.
And we all know what happens when you try and force a round peg into a square hole. It’s never worked; never will.
Some people are humanities-based. And that’s a good thing.
I love the story of Steve Jobs explaining why Apple’s typeface looks the way it does. Steve dropped out of Reed College, only to hang around on campus trying to figure out his “what’s next? really was.” He dropped in on a few classes just for fun while he was biding his time. He had this to say at a commencement address he gave at Stanford:
“If I had never dropped out, I would have never dropped in on this calligraphy class, and personal computers might not have the wonderful typography that they do. Of course it was impossible to connect the dots looking forward when I was in college. But it was very, very clear looking backwards ten years later.”
That’s the thing about humanities-based classes. That’s what makes the arts so powerful.
To create a full, thriving society, we can’t pinpoint and focus on one narrow-minded thing. Turning everyone into STEM people will only create a world of robots.
I Once Had Drinks With A Friend
Sounds like the start of a joke, doesn’t it? Well this meeting was no joking matter.
I have a friend who has a daughter very similar to mine. Smart as a whip. LOVED school … until the infamous STEM monster started creeping around, and pushed her into STEM AP classes she really didn’t like.
She did them – they all do. The schools won’t allow it any other way.
But she’s a writer. She’s a BEAUTIFUL writer.
Still, the school pushed. AP English, that’s perfect. But then they keep pushing, push, push into AP STEM classes too.
“You can’t make money if it’s not a STEM career.”
“You’ll never be successful unless you choose a STEM degree.”
Guess what? They lied.
I had this magical foresight, even way back. When our daughters were struggling through the system, I sat there with a drink in hand and laid it on the line. I told my friend to push her daughter to pursue her dream of being a writer. Ignore the AP rhetoric.
Because I write for a living. I see a lot of writing online. I’ve met a lot of people promoting themselves as writers. And I know for a fact … a lot of people can’t write.
I’m not saying I’m the best – I guarantee you there are English teachers out there that have clicked away by my short phrases and the way I say what I say.
But trust me when I say, I do it this way for a reason.
- It’s my personality – did you know writing is kind of like your fingerprint?
- I write for an eighth-grade level – short and sweet
- I write with search engine optimization in mind
- I write like I was speaking with you, one on one, communicating face to face
Are there errors? You bet. In fact, I even leave some of them in sometimes, just to write like a human.
The other reason is I saw a future when the creatives started ruling once again.
Because without creativity, it’s a pretty boring world.
Creatives give the world color. Creatives add the spice.
And no matter how much employers say they’re looking for the nuts and bolts – the STEM skills – they’re eventually going to start valuing the creatives too.
And that time is now. Oh yeah. Uh huh.
According to a new study, the most in-demand soft-skill for 2019 is creativity. And the reasons are just as I predicted:
“Employers recognize the importance of embracing modern technologies as well as recognizing those things technology can’t do: connect with other people, engage in out-of-the-box thinking and quickly adapt to new priorities or problems.”
There’s a quote out there that says:
Never piss off a fiction writer. You might just wind up dead in their next book.
Creatives imagine the world as it isn’t, and invent ways to make the impossible possible.
Creatives look at the world through entirely different glasses than STEMs. Not better or worse. Differently.
And that’s what makes our world such an exciting place.
A chance where we get a little bit of everything to add into the mix.
Without it, we dumb down, give away our edge, lose our innovation.
Gen Xers, Hear Us Roar
I remember back when I went to college. I had no idea what I wanted to be. What degree I wanted. What profession I would fall into.
But I did have an advantage – as a female Gen Xer, I was one of the first. The world was open to females for the first time – I could select any degree I wanted. There were many doors I could open, simply by being female during the 1980s, with a degree in hand.
I could pretty much be anything I wanted, go into any field I chose. Not just teaching or nursing – anything.
That didn’t make it easier. My parents didn’t really direct me. My mom just said, “You will get a degree” and that was that. So I fell into business because my dad said I could never go wrong with a business degree. I have a financial management masters degree because – why not? I kid you not, I didn’t think much about it. I just did it because that made the most sense at the time. Not for opportunity or passion. Just because.
I’m not saying it’s bad; it helped me become who I am.
I wallowed away doing more than one job I detested.
But still, every job I took, I learned valuable skills. Until one day I started writing, and the fire began brewing in my gut.
I loved it. I LOVED IT!
And I pushed until I did it all the more. I wrote books. I got a publishing contract. I became a columnist for the Business Journal. I’ve had articles published in major magazines. I’ve written for clients. And now I’m finally receiving recognition as a fiction writer too.
Did I ever think I’d write romance novels back when I graduated from college? Hell no.
But I can also tell you, I wouldn’t want to be any other place.
I wrote over a million words last year.
I love writing information pieces. I love creating stories.
It’s what I do. It’s what I love.
How about you?
Do you see yourself here? Were you pushed in a direction you really didn’t choose, and now that you’re there, you only want something more? Something else? Something different?
What are you doing to light a fire under your creative side?
Have you let your art, your music, or your stories flow freely?
If not, why? Maybe now is the time?