I was last night watching a TED Conference talk on education by Ken Robinson [brief interruption for those of you who don’t know TED Conferences, its this annual Conference where the most important creatives from around the world gather to talk about their ideas hoping to reach other important people to receive support for their ideas. TED stands for Technology, Entertainment and Design check it out at www.ted.com or their Podcast]. Anyway, he explains his ideas on how the current education system worldwide is focused on punishing mistakes and pushing young people to think in a linear way, pushing our intelligence to just one part of our bodies, our brain, and mostly just one side. A school presents the scenario of success as a University Professor. Anything else is just unacceptable.
I remember in my school for plays in Grammar School the main roles were assigned to the kids with the highest marks. Yes, the main roles were assigned to the nerds (and you can imagine most of them were not very talented). To be part of the school choir or soccer team you needed 8.5 (of 10) in your marks. And you would dedicate just 1 hour a week to this so called EXTRA CURRICULAR activities. This is where we grow up, in a culture where being good as an athlete, musician, dancer, singer, painter, writer, composer, is a nice quality but useless, a hobby, an ‘Extra’, but what really matters is that you are good at memorizing, not creating. Then we are told we are children and that we are supposed to change the world and make it better.
Telling my parents that I was dropping out of University to do theatre was not an easy thing. Even when I had a scholarship for doing art at it. But even my University asked for a 8.3 average to be able to keep doing that thing that got me the scholarship in the first place. I was fortunate to go to Theatre School after and study Production (in Canada because you can’t even study that in Mexico) Parents intend no harm, but we live in a world where we believe that artists can’t make a living, or get a job. I grew up in Mexico and I wonder how many Mechatronic Engineers this country needs? and why is it better than what I do? There is no better and worse and that is the whole point.
I plead to parents and educators to encourage the sports and the arts. Make it as important as Math and Literature, and please by all means stop calling it Extra Curricular activities. Take your kids to concerts, theatre and big sports events and if your kids dream of being there, let them explore and get to know themselves. Remove all prejudice from you mind and encourage ANY area a kid or teenager wants to explore. If you think your kid won’t make a living by being a dancer, then start going to ballet and dance shows and start encouraging people to do so, so your kid has a future.
But the most important task is in us. Those of us who are good at extra-curricular. If we don’t act accordingly, no one will ever respect or believe in what we do. I wrote the 8 points to put a future in what we do as emerging artists and try to live and act according to them:
1. Believe in what we do, because if we don’t no one will.
2. Explore, train and pursue, work hard on it. Taking it easy is the reason why people think its an easy road and therefore a bad one.
3. Be professional, or no one will understand that its a profession.
4. Stay away from drugs, no real talent should need to fuck up with your brain and body to flourish.
5. Support your colleagues. Recommend all shows and performances and when you critique be constructive, don’t trash, we don’t want to keep people away from theatres or halls, even if they are ‘competition’. We need each other people.
6. Teach. Go down to the chain of happening and put some time in encouraging interested younger generations to do what you do.
7. Don’t give up. We are swimming against the current but its very easy when you understand why. Create and be part of moving us further, as a community.
8. Keep it real. We live in a real world with limits of time, money and space. If we get lost in our abstract creative world we will be useless for the rest of the world and therefore our craft will die.
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