When I was in high school, I hated math. It made my brain hurt. I was convinced I would never be good at it. It was all mediocre grades and mathematical despair.
So when I started college, I avoided math. I did not take a single course. There were other courses that counted towards the necessary quantitative reasoning credits, so I took a Reason in Communication course (rhetoric, logical fallacies, etc.) and then Elementary Logic, which covered basic symbolic logic. I excelled at Elementary Logic. I spent 6-8 hours every Friday for an entire semester listening to music and carefully working out the week’s homework, copying all my final proofs and truth trees onto clean, blank pages that I stapled together with a real sense of accomplishment.
For those of you who have never had the pleasure of carefully translating if/then statements into strings of symbols, I will let you in on the joke. Symbolic logic is basically just math. During that semester it dawned on me that I was not in fact doomed to be bad at math, which changed my perception of my abilities profoundly.
There is a popular myth about the left and right hemispheres of the brain. The ‘left brain’ is the domain of reason and analytical thought, and the ‘right brain’ is the creative and emotional side. People are more ‘right brained’ or ‘left brained’, and are therefore naturally either more analytical or more creative. Research has shown this is not actually true. Creativity and analysis, emotion and reason, are not in neurological opposition.
As a theatre artist who loves a tidy excel sheet, I’ve known for a long time that my goal was to have a career in the arts and nonprofit sector, and finding a path to that goal has been difficult at best, especially with the devastating impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the entertainment industry and small businesses. When I stumbled on a Facebook post about the Bolz Center Masters Program in Arts and Creative Enterprise Leadership back in 2020, I realized that this program could be an actionable way to reach my goals, and that it was time to take a risk. With the world in upheaval, why not? I had long been looking for a place I could be multi-faceted without having to extol one ability over another in order to fit in, and in the Bolz Center, I am able to exercise creative and critical thought side by side. My applied learning placement is with ARTS for ALL Wisconsin, where I assist in development and grant-writing, which is a satisfying combination of organization, research, and storytelling. In class I learn about exciting ways to manage healthy and productive arts organizations. Perhaps most thrilling, I’ll be taking an accounting course next semester, numbers and all.
Armed with the tools I learn in this program, creative innovations and business models alike, my goal is no longer so far away as it used to feel, and I’m excited to live into the reality of human potential – our brains work as a whole, there is no limit to what we can learn.