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Sunday, January 25, 2015

Curtain call...on studying theatre in college

My recent post, "My kid wants to study theatre and I'm not sorry about it," was met with several comments, most of them supportive. I have a feeling that the nay-sayers, those who are shaking their heads at my naivete, were just being nice and holding their tongues.

Usually when there are comments, I try to reply to them within the context of the comments. But there were so many things I wanted to say, that I decided to give it another piece of real estate here in the blog.

I loved what Ellie had to say about her son's non-traditional major in college (he studied library science): "He didn't treat college like a vocational school." Yes! Exactly. What happened to the idea that college is the place where people go to learn about different perspectives and different ways of viewing the world?  There is nothing wrong with vocational education, but the idea that going to college to be an X is so limiting. What happens when you've spent so many years learning to be an X, working as an X, and you wake up one morning and figure out you are really not meant to be an X, that your true calling is to be a Y or, God forbid, an H -- something so far removed from what you were trained to do? There is a difference between being trained and being educated. It does put the burden of work and creativity on the person willing to seek true education, yes, but what an exciting way to face life.

Heather has had some experience going from being an X to an H. She said "If it doesn't work out, use that experience to build on and remake yourself." We are no longer in an era where people work for the same company for 30 years. For some, we are no longer in an era where people even work in the same field for 30 years. I want my kids to go into life knowing that remaking themselves is an exciting, even enviable, option -- not the mark of failure.

Tricia is a mom like me with an arts-loving kid. Yet, based on her own experience, she is encouraging her daughter to look into related careers. That is a prudent path. I've spoken before to Annie about "Plan B." She nods her head. She understands. She had her first kick in the gut when when audition led her to a spot in a program, but not the program she wanted. It hurt. She was angry. But she is undeterred.

I could have circled back with a discussion about other career options, but as a mother, as much as I watch how theatre feeds her, I also see how "Plan B" sucks the wind out of her. This is her time. This is her life. If she wants to throw herself into a "crazy" dream, then who am I stand in her way. If she willing to drive herself to live her dreams, then I'm not going to go around deflating her tires.

Momza had a really interesting thought -- should the cost of a degree be based on future earning potential? Working in higher ed, I can tell you right off that no professor in the world would go for that. In fact, some theatre programs charge a premium above regular tuition. If the cost based on potential was the equation, there are a lot of schools who would find themselves on the short end of the stick when their graduates go on to make blockbuster films and platinum albums. Maybe the cost of a degree should be based on future giving potential -- how much will the degree earning be giving back to society when they work in their chosen career. Based on that equation, teachers would be earning millions.

I loved hearing from Jennifer, whose son is also studying theatre, and Kimmybee, who is counting on the day when she can say about Annie, "I knew you when." But in the end, it doesn't really matter what anyone else thinks. It doesn't even matter what I think. What matters is that my kid has found a passion and is willing to go all in for following her dream. So once again, my kid wants to study theatre and I'm not sorry about it.


Erica Saint said...

I wish her all the best! :)
I enjoyed reading both posts, and I agree that it is her decision to make. Holden is eighteen, and currently in community college to be an ultrasound technician. It was his choice, and Chris and I allowed him to make it.

kimybeee said...

You can't make them choose something they don't want! They will either fail to avoid it or do it and hate it. Have you ever heard a story that started with " my parents told me to be an x and I did and I love it", of course you haven't.

I think if we did our jobs to the best of our ability, our kids will make informed decisions about their futures.

And the most important part of this blog, we live in a different world. People can change jobs or even careers and nobody blinks. It would be great to be young and have so many choices. I was never encouraged to branch out and leave home to have adventures. We told our kids they had to leave home to go to school. Both love it.

Annie will be famous, I see her as a Bette milder type. Able to do all kinds of things!! Keep reaching for the stars and working toward your goals Annie!!

Unknown said...

A belated clarification, just for me. Mac studied English and history as an undergrad, library and information science was for his master's. He is not working in the library field however.