A scrapbook of stuff I'm reading / looking at / listening to / thinking about. Ask me anything you can't Google.

Posts tagged "education"

Oct 20, 2014

Why going into debt for (art) school is a terrible idea

In Steal Like An Artist, I wrote: “Get the education you need for as cheap as you can get it.” As anybody who’s followed my “you don’t have to go to college” tag knows, going into soaking debt for a degree is a bad idea, but even more so for artists. This graphic is from a recently published report, “Artists Report Back: A National Study on the Lives of Arts Graduates and Working Artists” by BFAMFAPhD:

In the United States, 40 percent of working artists do not have a bachelors degree in any field. Only 16 percent of working artists have arts related bachelors degrees. Though arts graduates may acquire additional opportunities and skills from attending art school, arts graduates are likely to graduate with significant student loan debt, which makes working as an artist difficult, if not impossible. We acknowledge that some arts graduates are satisfied with work in other fields, but the fantasy of arts graduates’ future earnings in the arts should be discredited.

Emphasis mine. Hyperallergic has an in-depth look at the report, and points out that it’s not just applicable to art students, either:

While this report focuses specifically on the arts, I couldn’t help but notice that it’s a part of a much larger conversation that’s been roiling across fields recently, particularly when it comes to graduate degrees. Our higher education system is producing a vast quantity of workers with educations and expectations for high-level and high-paying jobs that simply do not exist in the quantity needed to employ all these people.

…this is not an isolated issue in the arts — we’re training hundreds of thousands of young people who dream of gaining lucrative, or at least sustaining, long-term employment in a job market that is over-saturated with precisely those people and has been steadily losing good jobs.

To quote Steve Albini: “Some of your friends are already this fucked.”

The only decent argument I’ve heard for getting an MFA or teaching at an MFA program came from George Saunders:

I would feel weird if my students were going into mad debt to study with me. At Syracuse, we give 100 percent remitted tuition and about 15K a year, which a person can (sort of, approximately) live on in Syracuse. In any event, nobody’s leaving here with, you know, 80K in student loans. So this changes the dynamic dramatically. I feel good about teaching here, I feel like it’s honest. If we can help someone along their personal trajectory, great. If not, well, the person is only three years older than he/she was.

Via BoingBoing: It’s all but impossible to earn a living as a working artist, new report shows

Filed under: you don’t have to go to college

Oct 06, 2014
We were positively encouraged to create for ourselves minds we would want to live with. I had teachers articulate that to me: ‘You have to live with your mind your whole life.’ You build your mind, so make it into something you want to live with. Nobody has ever said anything more valuable to me.

Oct 05, 2014
A little girl was in a drawing lesson. [The teacher] said, “What are you drawing?” And the girl said, “I’m drawing a picture of God.” And the teacher said, “But nobody knows what God looks like.” And the girl said, “They will in a minute.”
— Sir Ken Robinson, “How Schools Kill Creativity

Jun 05, 2014
When you’re learning about something and dissecting it, I don’t think you’re really through until you don’t understand anything about it. If you study something and you find all this stuff about it, you just went skin deep, so if you keep going and going, you should be left with a fucking mess of unanswered questions. If you take any subject and keep asking, “Why,” without stopping, you’ll get to a point where there really [aren’t] any clear answers.

May 17, 2014

Happy Birthday, Erik Satie!

I’ve been playing “3 Gymnopédies” a lot on piano recently, so I was pleasantly surprised to discover that today is Erik Satie’s birthday.

He was, like, many of the greats, a walker:

On most mornings after he moved to Arcueil, Satie would return to Paris on foot, a distance of about ten kilometres, stopping frequently at his favourite cafés on route. Accoring to Templier, “he walked slowly, taking small steps, his umbrella held tight under his arm. When talking he would stop, bend one knee a little, adjust his pince-nez and place his fist on his lap. The he would take off once more with small deliberate steps.” […]

Roger Shattuck, in conversations with John Cage in 1982, put forward the interesting theory that “the source of Satie’s sense of musical beat—the possibility of variation within repetition, the effect of boredom on the organism—may be this endless walking back and forth across the same landscape day after day … the total observation of a very limited and narrow environment.” During his walks, Satie was also observed stopping to jot down ideas by the light of the street lamps he passed.

Here’s a wonderful introduction to Satie’s work by my friend Kenny Goldsmith, “Flabby Preludes for a Dog: An Erik Satie Primer”:

In 1905, at the age of 40, after having been kicked around by critics and his peers, Satie decided to go back to school to study the “proper” classical techniques of counterpoint and theory. He sat in classes with students half his age, honed his skills, and graduated four years later with flying colors. While he composed some “serious” works after graduating, his music continued to become more bizarre. He began scribbling mysterious directions all over his scores and gave a running commentary of dialogue, puns, and absurdities: to be jealous of one’s playmate who has a big head, the war song of the King of Beans, canine song, to profit by the corns on his feet to grab his hoop, and indoors voice. The titles, too, were remarkable: Veritable Flabby Preludes (for a Dog), Sketches and Exasperations of A Big Boob Made of Wood, Five Grins or Mona Lisa’s Moustache, Menus for Childish Purposes, and Dessicated Embryos, just to name a few.

From today’s Writer’s Almanac_:

Known as “the velvet gentleman,” he owned 12 identical velvet costumes, 84 identical handkerchiefs, and nearly 100 umbrellas. He walked several miles to a cabaret in Paris every evening, where he played all night before walking back with a hammer in his pocket for protection. He said: “My only nourishment consists of food that is white: eggs, sugar, shredded bones, the fat of dead animals, veal, salt, coconuts, chicken cooked in white water, moldy fruit, rice, turnips, sausages in camphor, pastry, cheese (white varieties), cotton salad, and certain kinds of fish (without their skin). I boil my wine and drink it cold mixed with the juice of the Fuchsia. I have a good appetite, but never talk when eating for fear of strangling myself.”

May 02, 2014
With the advent of computers everything has become more and more conceptual and we’ve lost touch with the realm of the tactile. Calligraphy is a way of getting back in touch…
Jean-Louis Cohen, quoted in this mini-documentary about how French schools teach handwriting

May 01, 2014

Lynda Barry, Syllabus: Notes from an Accidental Professor

For the past decade, Barry has run a highly popular writing workshop for nonwriters called Writing the Unthinkable, which was featured in The New York Times Magazine. Syllabus: Notes from an Accidental Professor is the first book to make her innovative lesson plans and writing exercises available to the public for home or classroom use. Barry teaches a method of writing that focuses on the relationship between the hand, the brain, and spontaneous images, both written and visual. It has been embraced by people across North America—prison inmates, postal workers, university students, high-school teachers, and hairdressers—for opening pathways to creativity.

Syllabus takes the course plan for Barry’s workshop and runs wild with it in her densely detailed signature style. Collaged texts, ballpoint-pen doodles, and watercolor washes adorn Syllabus’s yellow lined pages, which offer advice on finding a creative voice and using memories to inspire the writing process. Throughout it all, Barry’s voice (as an author and as a teacher-mentor) rings clear, inspiring, and honest.

So! Excited! Comes out in October. Just pre-ordered the shit out of it.

Lynda’s class tumblr is the best. And Lynda is the best.

Filed under: Lynda Barry

Jan 23, 2014

Lynda Barry’s course syllabus

I probably get as excited about Lynda’s class starting as her students do. Follow along here.

Jan 12, 2014
Today’s NYTimes quotes @joycecaroloates arguing that most great writers of the past would be rejected by today’s universities.

Today’s NYTimes quotes @joycecaroloates arguing that most great writers of the past would be rejected by today’s universities.

Nov 05, 2013
The teacher is justified to lead students only if he is and remains a student.
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