BFA (Bachelor of Freakin Awesomeness)

(Song Dedication: Sky Full of Song by Florence and the Machine)

A few weeks ago I referenced my educational background in a post, to paint (pun totally intended) a romanticized picture of my 20’s, in which I left my small town to study visual arts in a small city, upon graduating 4 years later with a Bachelor of Fine Arts, I travelled to Europe to see art history in real life.

So with that being said, why would I bring it up again?  To quell my wounded ego I suppose is the best way to address it.

See, I spent the day driving to and from a larger city north of here in the purest winter driving conditions (ten degrees below freezing, reduced speed on a sheet of ice, mindfully scanning the horizon for deer, moose and possible out of control on-coming vehicles, reminders of those who don’t respect these conditions already nestled and abandoned in the piled high snowbanks flanking the icy highway) with my son in the car.  I felt an immense sense of responsibility resting heavily on my shoulders to get us both safely to and from the various appointments we had scheduled.

Needless to say, I am exhausted now home safely, and although I would love to attend my group meditation session tonight in an hour, I know what will happen.  As I settle into a like-minded presence with this wonderful group of humans, the warm space of compassionate holding, the candle burning to honour our oneness will yes bring peace, but tonight I know it would also bring sleep.  And there is nothing more alarming than knocking off during group meditation, only to awaken to the sound of my own snoring or a violent jolt of my heavy cranium that my neck no longer wishes to support.

I did try to be proactive about this, addressing my tiredness with my husband, who agreed with me that if I were to lay down for 30 minutes and then re-assess, I might be able to re-start my body to attend said Meditation group.  However, as I laid down on my bed and shut my eyes with an alarm set for precisely 30 minutes, I found myself more wired than after I finished my morning cup of bulletproof coffee at 8 am!  I mean what the heck?!

I’ll tell you what the heck…this unrest is what I have been plagued with over the past two weeks or so since I began reading, “A Whole New Mind: Why Right Brainers Will Rule the Future” by author and researcher Daniel H. Pink.  Pink has quite a CV with work published in The New York Times, Harvard Business Review and a contributing editor for whole new mindWired, amongst other podcast and print media, he is the author of 6 books, was the chief speechwriter to Vice President Al Gore in the 90’s, and was named one of the top 15 business thinkers in the world for the past 6 years…

You’re probably still like, ya…but what the heck…what would a business trend thinker have to say that would ruffle your fine arts feathers?

I’m getting to it…as I almost always do…promise…

So Pink’s premise of this particular body of work supports the idea (through plenty of research and his own experience) that right-brain thinkers possess a particular set of abilities that are in a sense, innately human and therefore a precious commodity in the ever changing tide of our western world ways and culture.  He refers to the 3 A’s: Abundance, Automation and Asia as key players in the shift in our modern economy and (forgive me for this bastardization of his work) because of the 3 A’s there must be an awareness to predict how future (and even current) generations will need to exercise more right-brain approaches in our workforce.  Basically…if you want your kid to have a job encourage the creative, the empathic, the (what he calls) Conceptual Age.  Ladies and gentlemen, the Information age has left the building.

So you might be like me, quite disbelieving at first, because we will always need our doctors and lawyers, accountants and software engineers who are often left-brain oriented.  But Pink argues that yes we do need them yet the shift taking place is expecting those professions to get with the times too.  How do we make more empathic doctors…have them study “narrative medicine” to better connect with patients stories therefore increasing their health and healing. At Yale School of Medicine, students are required to take Art History to hone their observation skills. Jobs that were once highly specialized in western society, tech based jobs for example, are now being outsourced to Asia for a fraction of the cost (but not a fraction of the quality). Or jobs once reserved for specialized legal council, can now be done by the client through downloading of forms and then taken (as completed paperwork) to their Lawyer at a fraction of the legal fees.

This is still not the piece that has been stuck in my craw, so without further ado, here is what gets me all aggravated…and when I say me…it’s not…it’s my ego…and I do apologize Eckhardt Tolle as I am also reading “The Power of Now” but feel like if I just surrender to this then maybe it will leave me be….or light a fire under my right-brained ass and do something about it…

As already mentioned, I have a BFA, which took 4 years of my life to complete.  I paid tuition like all the other BA’s, BSc’s and BComm’s and did the time too.  And when I say time, I mean a full course load of credits every term as well as additional studio hours to work on independent pieces.  I am saying this for myself if no one else, because all this time and all these years, I have been self-deprecating the validity of this work.  Which I take responsibility for but also see that I was buying into society’s labels and projections of what is valid and useful in this world we live.

I referred to my BFA in that last write as a Bachelor of Fuck All depending on who you ask.  And upon completing “A Whole New Mind” I see that I was wrong to do so.  I earned that degree just as others earned theirs of more “respectable” academia.  And what I do see now is that what I earned is specialized and not everyone can do this…just like I could not have earned my medical or law degree.

With the belief of “not good enough” in mind I took my degree and travelled and upon my return to Canada felt it necessary to upgrade my schooling further to get a “real job” which lead me into first year Science and Math Courses and then onto my Bachelor of Education.

So why am I so pissed?!

Because although the world is shifting and I whole-heartedly agree with Pink, and not just because his work is extremely validating for me; I am still being told that my specialized education isn’t enough!  What I mean is the TQS, the teacher qualification service, who evaluates each practicing teacher’s credentials and then gives them a TQS category, has stated that my BFA is not a “recognized” degree to obtain a higher qualification category (ergo more pay) and so even though my other undergraduate degree counterparts of English, Business or Science are given a higher rating, I am not.

The book got me thinking about this more than I used to.  I used to just accept this even though I thought it was bullshit.  But now with the new curriculum launched in the last few years with a component being Applied Skills and Design along with Fine Arts (which has always been included) I see that the Provincial Government is asserting the importance of this right-brain trajectory.  And so I think it is time to re-visit this injustice with a re-application to the TQS…maybe I could just send them this link to my blog.

Well I know that had I not obtained my BFA, I would not have become the teacher I am.  A teacher who is highly observant, empathetic and with this skill set was able to enmesh an appreciation for the Arts throughout the curriculum.  Why are most kids pumped for Friday afternoon…because it’s their art block! (an overgeneralized time table of sorts but you get what I mean). The arts are a fundamental piece to a balanced education, often providing outlets to under-serviced children, who can find a way to express themselves positively and explore the challenges they may have faced in their young lives.  It also brings an acute sense of observation to their lives, in a time when automation and distraction are constantly swirling.

I know that as a parent of a strongly right-brain oriented child, I will honour his passion to create and design.  I will validate his process to problem solve, recognize pattern and be sensitive to himself and others through encouragement, just as another parent will foster their child’s love to heal and care for others or their need for justice in the world.  Creativity is the new currency and I suggest you honour it in your own life as well as in the lives of those who you care for.  With creativity comes courage and innovation and what a future this will be!

(*Featured image is one of my original paintings I completed 5 years ago, still creating and expressing myself in whatever way I possibly can…the text on the piece reads “Where you belong” and it is poignant for me after completing this egoic write…and yes, she’s simmered down a bit, which will hopefully bring me some much needed rest tonight! Writing meditation complete…see art can bring all sorts of healing and wellness:)



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