TED Conversations

Simon Peter Debbarma

Student of History, Desire Machine Collective

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Why is art (or artistically creative fields) often not taken seriously?

My question is self-explanatory.

I live in India where the shortest path to success in life is getting a degree and a good job. Its basically the traditional way. Very few actually pursue something artistic. And very few parents actually encourage it.

I found that most parents don't want their children to take risks and enter the creative fields. Most want their kids to be engineers and doctors. Here in India, most kids either end up wanting to be an engineer or a doctor and many parents want just that. Maybe its the financial stress but there's no explanation for it.

The creativeness in kids is killed although some lucky ones have it until the end of their lives. This is also shared by Ken Robinson''s talk. Creativity is art and its sad to see art dying in the younger generations.

As you can see this is very prevalent in my country and other Asian countries. You can also figure out why we can be kind of over-achievers if we try hard. John Maeda's father as said in this TED talk says that his father told a certain shop owner that he was "good in math" while his teacher had said that John was good in "math and art". His father had left out art. I've been in similar situations too and its kind of sad to see that your talent is not uphold-ed or recognized by the ones you hoped would appreciate it. Maybe I was not good enough, but it didn't mean that I couldn't improve. Many go through this and I think coming up with a solution should be on our agenda.

What can you do to change this? Are you willing to change your society?
How can we keep children interested and their love for art burning through their school life?
Is this something only my generation will have to face? Do you think this will change in later generations?Will we be supportive of our children in what they are good at, and at not what you want them to be?

Topics: art creativity

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  • Aug 9 2013: Well, if I am ever lucky enough to have kids I will encourage them to find things they are passionate about because such exploration is how you eventually find the one or two things you are meant to do.

    At the same time I think every child also has be taught common sense. That is, just wanting to be 'creative' is not enough in many instances to support a decent life. Strictly speaking, to be creative is to do something that you have never done before, but that is generally very different than being seen as 'creative enough' by other people that you can get a job.

    You pointed out that 'maybe this is due to financial pressures'--there is no 'maybe' about it, parents can see this reality much better than young people. When I was young you could afford to mess around and get a History or Anthropology degree just because you were interested in it, but now that's not true and parents know it.

    So, I think all children should be encouraged to be creative and follow their passions, but unless they are a prodigy in music or art, etc., they need to also get training that will allow them to create a stable future.

    I do, however, think the emphasis on following a strict set of steps to be a 'success' has to change. The fact is that we have allowed the world to change into a place where money and things are more important than being happy. That was the beauty of growing up in the 60s; no one had much but lots of people were reasonably happy--and isn't that the point of life?

    When I was young, lots of working adults had time to pursue things they were interested in. More professionals in that era valued spending time with their families more than killing themselves at work just to 'get ahead'. Only one income was necessary to successfully raise a family.

    Now, not even two incomes is enough in many instances to have a reasonable family life, in part because costs continue to skyrocket.

    We have to change our values so that happiness is more important than 'consuming'.

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