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“What do ya do with a B.A. in English?”

posted by School of Theatre on Mon, Sep 19, 2011
in School of Theatre

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Good question, Avenue Q writers.  As two recently graduated English majors who “can’t pay the bills yet, cuz we have no skills yet,” that question dominated our thoughts for the last year. And so, in celebration of National Arts in Education Week, we’re sharing our answer with you.

Our answer:  Arts Education. 

I’m Shari McDonald, education fellow and recent graduate of Bennett College with a B.A. in English and concentration in Theatre. Here’s why “arts education” is my answer.

Arts education is a basic necessity. Sure, including arts education as a basic necessity along with water, food, shelter, and clothing is a bit of a stretch, but maybe all too often we neglect our need to exhibit human qualities. The need to connect, touch, inspire, engage, and express will never vanish, so perhaps arts education needs to be added to that list of basic necessities.

Arts education serves as an integral part of an adolescent's development. Youth who have participated in the arts have improved communication skills, motivation, cognitive ability, confidence, concentration, and teamwork. The arts help to create well-rounded students who not only care about their own success, but also are empathetic, compassionate, and charitable to others. And, people who create art often allow themselves to be vulnerable and empathetic. If everyone allowed themselves to experience these emotions, we’d have a world of humanitarians! 

“The children are the future,” so I have decided to invest in our society’s future by being an educator who utilizes the arts as a teaching method. Education is the most unique and fluid field. It is a noble, selfless, and evolving profession. Teachers exist in all forms: dancers, philosophers, doctors, scientists, architects, economists, and artists. The ability to share your knowledge, and inspire others is the most rewarding experience. There is no better way to change the world than to be an educator who understands the importance of integrating arts education.

I’m Hannah Lennett, education fellow and recent Graduate of Brown University with degrees in English Literature and Performance Studies. Here’s why “arts education” is my answer.

I went to college with a lot of people who wanted to change the world.  I sat in a seminar one day with a student to my left studying health policy in order to travel to Mali and start an orphanage, while to my right was a soon-to-be civil rights attorney. I sat in the middle, swamped with rehearsal schedules, English papers, and teaching gigs, hoping that I would be able to construct as noble and vast a dream as theirs.  My classmates' dreams were immense and different, creative and challenging -- but there was one thing they had in common. They had all been touched by the arts in some way.  The civil rights lawyer learned her love for public speaking in her middle school drama club. The orphanage had been the brainchild of my other classmate ever since he took an African drumming class in his elementary school and became engrossed in Malian culture. Every dreamer I talked to was inspired by the arts. 

There I was -- graduation approaching, staring at the options available to an English major like myself, and pretty consistently humming the Avenue Q soundtrack under my breath like the faithful theatre geek that I am. 

In the end I skipped over the consulting firms and the entry-level publishing jobs (even though they were tempting both in salary and content) because in this culture of big dreamers, I found myself looking around me at my outstanding peers who were able to enter such incredible fields, and I decided my big dream was to make sure that our country is preserving and creating new generations of big dreamers.  Dreamers who get their start when a teacher hands them their first musical instrument, teaches them a dance step, or asks them to take the lead in the school play. 

So here I am in my dream(er) fellowship at Berkeley Rep School of Theatre.  In National Arts in Education Week, I am thankful for all the arts educators who work to inspire students every day and look forward to supporting and working with them in my time at Berkeley Rep and beyond.

 Happy National Arts in Education Week!




Bravo! Bravo! Bravo! Hannah, I can't begin to tell you how proud and awed I am by you, your ability to express yourself, and your love for the are a living, breathing example of the power and influence that the arts and humanities bring to our society...I applaud you! Bravo! Lucy

Lucy Rioux | Mon, Sep 19, 2011

these are great examples of the benefits of an arts education. I was fortunate enough to have a liberal arts high school and college education. I'm so glad I was given the opportunity to spread my wings, per se, as I did. I majored in Psychology which is beneficial to a certain extent. I think the arts aspect, I've used more than anything. =)

Furniture Stores Roswell | Tue, Sep 20, 2011

Art, in some form of fashion, is found in every element of life. It's good to know that there will be educators who will utilize it in a way that will better our children, which will then better our future....kudos to the both of you.

I'm very proud of you shari, you have always done great things. When it comes to your quality of work I'm never surprised. You always improve. :)

Aaron Wilkerson | Tue, Sep 20, 2011

Great Job! Shari, I am delighted to see you out there and flourishing! I look forward to hearing about more great things you are doing (including Graduate School!)

All the best,

Dr. Roberts

Dr. David A. Roberts | Wed, Sep 21, 2011

Shari, I am so, so proud of you! You are a talented young woman who continues to flourish. Both you and Hannah are a testament to the fact that it is through the arts that we all find our calling.

P. Speas | Wed, Sep 21, 2011

Shari I agree the children are truly our future. I also appreciate the point you make regarding the youth who have participated in the arts. In many instances these children have improved communication skills, motivation, cognitive ability, confidence, concentration, and teamwork. In the meantime you keep writing, stay focused and motivated and I will certainly keep reading your posts. I'm proud of you young lady. All the Best!!!!

Ruthie Richardson-Robinson | Wed, Sep 21, 2011

Great Thoughts!!! Beautifully Expressed...Continue to Be the Change You All Want to See in the World!!!<3 Awesome....

Nadirah Goldsmith | Fri, Sep 23, 2011

Kudos Shari! I know you always deliver! Miss you!

Sonya Facey | Fri, Oct 14, 2011

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