Trained to look for a job

“Culture changes to match the economy, not the other way around. The economy needed an institution that would churn out compliant workers, so we built it. Factories didn’t happen because there were schools; schools happened because there were factories.

The reason so many people grow up to look for a job is that the economy has needed people who would grow up to look for a job.” (Seth Godin’s Stop Stealing Dreams ,section 13)

In this free ebook available here, Seth Godin dissects the public school system arguing that it was designed to produce the ideal factory worker and that this goal is no longer meeting society’s needs.

Most of us don’t associate art music composition with factory work and mass culture. We like to think that we are above all that garbage and compliance, that we are doing something different with our lives, that we are changing the world and leaving a mark.

But how many composition students do you know going through school with the aim to find a university teaching position? How many of them complain that there aren’t enough such positions? How many think that their career is hopeless because of that?

How many music departments train their students to be composers? How many train their students to be university professors? Those concepts are not at all the same.

For many aspiring, talented young composers, composition becomes a factory job and university is designed to get you to that job, if you can find it. You spend years of your life perfecting your craft so that you can teach rudimentary theory, counterpoint and ear training to the next generation of musical factory workers.

Is this what you wanted when you decided to study music at university? Or have you just fallen into the rut that mass education created for you?

If you did actually want to be a teacher, then think about what you really wanted to teach and how you wanted to teach it. Are you doing that? Or are you a cog churning out more cogs?

If chosen well and approached critically, university can be a wonderful place of learning and passion, a time for you to hone your skills in relative safety and financial stability. But it’s worth reminding yourself of your goals from time to time and to check if your path is still leading you there, else you become an automaton being pushed along the assembly line.

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