From Actress, to Teacher, to Corporate Visionary

On June 1, 2013, I posted the following comments on the “Get Schooled” blog of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution in response to the article posted by a Drama Major graduate of the University of Georgia, who does not share the same point-of-view as the Chancellor of that university. The link to her article is provided here:

http://www.ajc.com/weblogs/get-schooled/2013/jun/01/chancellor-students-choosing-wrong-areas-study-inc/

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My response:

“Brava to Emily Paige Ballou, who learned to think for herself along the way, perhaps even because she earned a college degree in Drama.

I was a Drama major, turned English major, in the 1960s. As an honor graduate in my south Georgia high school, I was offered a full college scholarship in my late teens, if I agreed to become a teacher in Georgia. I declared that there was ‘no way’ that I would end up being a provincial high school English teacher. I was going to study Theatre – which I did for two years in a private college in Georgia – before I headed to New York City with my young husband whom I had met two years earlier while we were working as apprentices/actors in Summer Stock in Connecticut (with Alan Alda as the star, btw).

Eventually, in NYC I figured out that that educator who had offered me a full college scholarship if I agreed study education in a Georgia college, knew my talents better than I had. As much as I loved – and still love – the theatre, I realized in NYC that I did not want to pursue the lifestyle of the actor. I wanted a more stable life. I wanted to help others grow to become who they were uniquely meant to be. I wanted to share my talents in English with young people. So, I switched from being a Drama major to becoming an English major in a university in NYC, where I earned my B.A. in English in 1970.

I came back to Georgia (Atlanta area) to spend the next 35 years of my life as a teacher and I loved every minute of my career. However, I was not the same provincial English teacher, whom I might have become, had I not journeyed to Connecticut and then to NYC, interacting with actors, writers, and various artists from many places throughout the world.

The worst thing that we could do to our nation would be to produce only that type of person who thinks in terms of economics and business. I can visualize that type of America with those at the top echelon of the economic and corporate world who would become the new aristocrats of society, in terms of their status and wealth, counterpositioned against those much poorer Americans at the bottom of the corporate ladder, who would have become the mindless “worker bees,” not even aware that they are being used (similar to low-paid economic slaves) throughout their entire impoverished lives, to make the economic aristocrats even wealthier. That would be an America based on a hierarchial vision of humankind, not the egalitarian vision of humankind upon which America was founded.

That would not be the America envisiond by Thomas Jefferson, George Washington, John Adams, James Madison, even Alexander Hamilton, and then later by Abraham Lincoln who dedicated himself to sustaining the union envisioned by America’s founding fathers. The artists in society will reject being told how to think. They will see into the machinations of some of those Americans of high wealth and power, who will often use poorer workers for their own benefit. The artists will be free to state injustice as they see it, forthrightly, whenever it is being made manifest upon society. Creative artists in every society help to make their societies more equitable and more free.

‘Google’ the 1988 series of interviews with journalist Bill Moyers and professor Joseph Campbell, authority on myths who coined the phrase, ‘Follow your bliss,’ for greater insight into dimensions of human consciousness and experience beyond a two-dimensional monetary, business ken.

Also, listen to the following video, produced April 12, 2013 by Bill Moyers, entitled ‘The United States of Inequality.’

http://billmoyers.com/segment/bill-moyers-essay-the-united-states-of-inequality/

Finally, please read the last stanza of Rudyard Kipling’s poem, ‘L’Envoi,’ below:

‘And only the Master shall praise us, and only the
Master shall blame;
And no one shall work for money, and no one shall
work for fame;
But each for the joy of the working, and each, in his
separate star,
Shall draw the Thing as he sees It for the God of
Things as They Are!'”
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Addendum: “Here are ‘real life’ examples of corporations which have today, as corporations had in generations past, adopted a public service dimension as well as a focus upon profit. This more elevated vision within the corporate world will make for a better America for all citizens. Read and listen to the video in the link, below, for more detailed information.”

http://billmoyers.com/content/what-is-a-benefit-b-corporation/

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Another poster: “I read the chancellor’s remarks as kindly advice to students and prospective students to earn degrees that will enhance their likelihood of being self-sufficient. . . .”
______________________________________________________________________________

My response: “That very well may have been Chancellor Huckaby’s intent; however, his unfortunate use of a stereotypical image of drama majors was neither current nor accurate. Georgia has become the ‘Hollywood of the South’ in recent years. Please read the link below for the facts regarding Georgia’s flourishing film industry.

http://movies.yahoo.com/news/big-growth-likely-georgias-film-industry-150552810.html

Moreover, and perhaps more importantly, a college education must never become limited simply to job placement. One of the saddest life experiences is to witness a person functioning in a career which he/she hates, simply for money. That poor choice can even foster one’s early death. We each have differing gifts and aptitudes. The wise student will train for that job which will give him/her joy, as well as a living. Notice in the excerpt below, taken from the link, above, of the article about Chancellor Huckaby in the Athens Banner-Herald, that the Chancellor’s work experience and, probably, his particular ken is of business, budgets, and administration. Others have other visions.

‘. . . as Huckaby, whose long career in public administration included stints as the state’s chief budget writer and as vice president for finance and administration at the University of Georgia . . .’

Thomas Jefferson’s education was not limited to farming, the means by which he earned a living. Jefferson’s education mainly involved learning and weighing the ideas of many Enlightenment thinkers, and those thoughts, which germinated in Jefferson’s mind, and in the minds of other founding fathers, have changed the course of human events, for the better, for centuries.”

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