Yes — you can be a producer without a degree. As many of us know, there are not enough people with graduate degrees in this country. But, as an artist, you don’t need a degree — you need an enthusiasm to pursue my career.”
It’s an important point by itself, but it doesn’t always help much to make them a priority. Even better to just go along quietly and not do a great job; people will not notice.
But when did academia become so synonymous with failure? It’s important and we should remember its history. Academia, like other academic institutions, were a way of helping aspiring artists find jobs and get places. A lot of people took advantage of this. I was one of them. The industry that grew with it was a valuable one, and it was important to us all to keep it. I wish we’d had it back then. That would have been more useful than academia.
Now, we’re in a much grayer and more complex place. Academia no longer fits that. There are too many problems to even start trying to fix it alone. That doesn’t mean it can’t get better; it means we’ve got to take better care of it, with smart people in charge, and with the right things in place. What’s good for them, and good for us, doesn’t have to be good for all. If we let people run wild they can create wonderful things without our direct intervention for all we care.
But to get to the point where it no longer works so beautifully, it has to be changed, and that takes us back to the question at the heart of the book: is being an artist better or worse than being a professor?
For the more important question, it’s better.
What’s the best use of a degree?
And the answers we receive when people ask this question can determine who we are as a society.
When people ask this question, they sometimes bring me up because of my recent book On the Other Side of the Table. There’s a chapter on professors in that book.
When a college professor tells people that their degrees are worthless, it’s something very rare. The best argument against a university education is to suggest you get a master’s degree. Even then, it’s hard to say you’ll find a field that suits you better than the one you’re currently working in. The professor says you will be happier in a job your career is tied to if
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