What Art Can Do

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Arts education aids students in skills needed in the workplace and so much more.

By: Andrea Mulder-Slater


Participating in art nurtures inventiveness as it engages people in a process that aids in the development of self-esteem, self-discipline, cooperation, and self-motivation. And, art helps people gain the tools necessary for understanding human experience, adapting to and respecting other points of view, developing creative problem-solving skills and communicating thoughts and ideas.

It’s the reason why you gave your kids crayons and paintbrushes when they were little and it’s why many business leaders consider creativity one of the most desirable qualities in their employees.

Joseph M. Calahan, PhD (a man who spent more than 40 years at the Xerox Corporation, where he held a series of positions in public affairs, communications and social responsibility) once said, Arts education aids students in skills needed in the workplace: flexibility, the ability to solve problems and communicate, the ability to learn new skills, to be creative and innovative, and to strive for excellence.”

And he’s not alone in his thinking.

McGill University Professor Nancy J. Adler, a pioneer in the integration of art and design with business and societal leadership, has brought artistic approaches into her work with managers and executives worldwide for more than a decade.

Meanwhile, medical educators are combining art and medicine to develop unique new ways to involve the humanities to focus on skills in diagnosis and observation to understand a patient’s needs.

Surprised? Don’t be.


The world continues to change. We are not living in an age of routine performances. We are smack dab in the middle of an era where our survival depends on engineers being able to adapt to new situations, teachers finding creative ways to deal with unforeseen problems and doctors who know how to think on their feet. We need imagination, thoughts and vision in our pressure packed world. We need our kids to follow their bliss and we need them to tap into their right brains because if they don’t, they will fail.

So if your son or daughter comes to you saying they want to go to art school, do not be afraid. Be joyful and dance like no one is watching. Because it is there that they will have the opportunity to fully discover their calling and it is there that they will learn that anything is possible.

Before I go, I will leave you with this speech by University of Waterloo Economics professor Larry Smith. In it, he makes some points that every parent should hear. It’s a long presentation so if you’re pressed for time, skip ahead to 10:38.

Curious about what you can do with an art degree, other than becoming a visual artist?

Have a look at this list of more than 200 options.

I wrote it years ago so some of the careers might be obsolete 😉 but it gives you a good idea of the possibilities.