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Should you get a University Jewelry Degree


#1
And I doubt many would argue about American universities teaching
this strange, made-up concoction of jewelry skills that doesn't
translate at all into the real world. 

I started a new thread by breaking off this comment from a previous
thread because I think there’s something here that merits
documenting for those who are considering a university jewelry
program. There is often a complete mismatch between what the public
thinks a university degree should be and that academia believes it
to be.

I have spent the past five years serving as a Trustee of a major
university (18,000 students) and found that academics are proud that
they teach ideas and concepts utilizing higher level thinking
skills. They distain the thought of teaching anything that falls into
the category of “skills,” leaving that responsibility to their (dare
I say “lesser”) brethren at trade schools or junior colleges. But,
students at universities want skills that will make them employable
too. The University is in a quandary. If they change their
curriculum and add classes which teach skills, they are deemed to be
"pretenders" in the academic world and their professors will have a
difficult time “moving up” to better universities. Thus, there is no
support among the faculty (who controls the curriculum) to change the
curriculum.

Please don’t mistake these comments for dislike of universities. It
is not… Universities educate our society, one of the most important
functions to which an institution can aspire. However, some
professions require significant training requirements that cannot be
met in a traditional university setting or on-the-job training after
college. That’s where trade schools, journeyman programs,
internships, and apprenticeships come into play.

Interestingly, physicians are among those who need to learn what is
taught at a University AND need skills training. They have practice
rotations in hospitals while in school, followed by Internships, etc.
Unfortunately, the average job doesn’t pay well enough to justify
investing in university tuition followed by a trade school. Hence,
the choice of one path or the other.

Just my two cents worth.
]
Jamie


#2

I would say that the idea that they teach you how to think and not
the skill is some what accurate. My undergrad metals professor was
from the old school of teaching where you teach the skill and worry
about the creativity later. She mainly taught ceramic and having
talked to professors that took her class when they were still
students they attest to the fact that students would leave her second
level class throwing better than most grad students, because she
focused on the skills and technique. The new school of thought is
that you can learn the skills on your own and that it pieces dont
even have to have any craftsmanship they just have to have a great
thought process and idea behind them and you have to be able to
defend them. I currently am looking for grad programs and one of the
issues I have seen more in the sculpture arena than metals is the
lack of craftsmanship. Also unlike many other fields the graduate
level in art is rarely go right out of undergrad like most other
fields. It is very hard to get in to a grad school right out of
undergrad. The time between is when you hone the basic skills at an
apprenticeship or job. It has been said before and I would for the
most part agree that the graduate level is more for if you want to
teach than if you want to be a professional. Everyone learns things
in different ways and at different places. Some (like me) might go
to school planning on doing something completely different with their
lives and then wind up finding something they love (art) along the
way. Others will find a part time job with a local jeweler and learn
that way. I dont think we can say one is better than the other. Just
different strokes for different folks. I think that you could have an
apprenticeship where you dont learn the skills as well as one might
at a school, it all depends on the school and the master you are
apprenticing under.

Alex


#3

I graduated in May from a university Jewelry & Metals program, and I
have a few comments here:

I believe the university I attended DOES teach a very good variety
of “skills” to be a metalsmith. Because they saw that their students
cannot go out into the world and smith metals without a solid set of
skills, so they taught us and showed us everything they could,
including brining in at least 2 visiting artists a semester to give
workshops, who did somewhat show us glimpse of the real world outside
of the studio. (This is not to argument about those people that are
self taught jewelry artists, I have a strong belief that you CAN be
successful when you teach or learn your skills independently, and
this makes you no less a smith)

What I found VERY lacking in our university education was any kind
of real life experience teaching. I know of 2 students who went out
to get their MFA (Masters of Fine Art) just because they were lost as
to what to do with themselves. The MFA may teach them additional
skills with metalsmithing and jewelry making, but most of that
education is geared towards teaching at the collegiate level, and I
know at least one of those two students doesn’t want to teach! What a
waste of another 60K at the least!

IMHO they felt very lost because their university education was
lacking. The university does not offer any help in internship
placement, in even KNOWING what is a possible career out there after
you graduate; they just kick ya out the door and say “go for it”.

So here I sit trying to build up my home studio, put my own web site
together, build a client base, a mailing list, etc etc. and continue
to practice my skills and push myself to new ones without any
knowledge on how to proceed. THAT is what I feel is very lacking in
MY university training! Nothing about the real outside world was
talked about, no possibilities for a future were even covered, it was
like, “here is your diploma. Now go be a jeweler/metalsmith.”

I think here in the US of A we are sadly lacking in guiding our
university graduates. I have a slight advantage in that I returned
to school majoring in Fine Art after my kids reached their adulthood,
so I know the way the world works, somewhat, but I did not know the
way the jewelry world worked, and I am just learning to figure that
out. I think we need to revamp our universities, and also include
with that education a good follow up, help place students in
internships and such.

Just my two cents!
Teresa


#4

#1 question do you personally need a degree ? Why? does the law
require it ? will you be able to work in the chosen portion of the
vast diverse field of jewely you want to without it?

an internship at a pawn shop may be as good as a degree in jewelry
Most universities with the exception of GIA and some private schools
do not teach towards the marketable jewelry industry (repair work,
custom, remounts etc.) it is most likely the one area of study where
they do not teach towards an industry.

Business, law, medecine, sports, education, forensics etc… etc…
all teach towards job placement after college, but not jewelry with
the exception of recycling back into teaching art jewelry at a
university. Why ? it can be different scenarios, one the public,
parents industry leaders students etc… are not demanding or asking
the univeritites to tailor their programs to the jewelry industry or
they just have not done it for some reason like cost or reasearch to
understand an industry as closed to all but insiders as the jewelry
industry can be at times, but i do know when people buy jewelry they
buy things like engagement rings, gold chains, pendants and bracelets
and diamond studs and they do not buy them often and they are for the
most part painfully uninformed when john and miss Q. public do buy
these things then when the items fail they need them repaired.

…mostly what people buy is mass produced and manufacfactured with
price point as the focus and it has been pitched heavily through
advertisement.

I think a person considering a degree in metals and jewelry/ plus
hoping to work at the end should ask themselves to research what
exactly it is they want to learn and ask other graduates how they are
doing in thier job search I will not be so bold as to lay any blame
or acusations i am merely pointing out these observations for the
sake of helping myself and the rest of us to understand what is going
on in our world of jewelry.

goo


#5

I’m going to respond to this from a slightly different direction. If
you like to study, enjoy classes, and like to learn - then you
should get some sort of college or university degree. Note the two
will give very different experiences! The advantage to both is the
exposure to ideas, to methods of learning, to resources, and to
people that you might not otherwise get.

My father took me out for a “drink” ( I was underage, so it was iced
tea) before I went off to college, and gave me a wonderful piece of
advice. He told me I was not going to college to learn all the
answers, but to learn HOW to get the answers to questions I might
have throughout my life. He was right.

Do not mistake a college or university degree with job security or
job preparation. They are not synonymous. You MAY get both at the
same time, but most people don’t. You often have to get additional
schooling or training elsewhere to actually get a job.

The other thing that is good about college/university is the chance
to try many different areas, and often students will enter thinking
they want to do one thing, and then discover something entirely
different that turns out to be “their” thing.

If you don’t like studying or classes, then college/university is not
the right road for you to follow. There are many other ways to learn
for those who like learning but not the study/class thing. Don’t put
yourself through the expense and time if you aren’t going to enjoy at
least most of the academic experience.

Beth Wicker
Three Cats and a Dog Design Studio
http://www.bethwicker.com


#6

When I was trying to get a job in the jewelry industry, I ran into
so much prejudice against university educated jewelers that I finally
had to start lying about the fact that I studied metals in college.
After 40 years in the trade I know why. None of the local schools
teach any useable techniques. I’ve lost count of the graduates of a
local arts and crafts college that have come to me to teach them how
to do really basic stuff. I feel so bad for these kids because
they’ve spent untold thousands of dollars on a degree and then have
to pay me to teach them the skills that they need to make a living. I
had a former student tell me that the stone setting class consisted
of the teacher telling them that she didn’t like to set, didn’t know
how, and that they should just send their setting work to a
professional trade shop. The only skill she had was setting stones
in bezels and poorly at that. That said. I still loved and cherished
my university classes and professor. I still believe in a liberal
arts education. It just won’t get you a job in the industry.

Have fun and make lots of jewelry.
Jo Haemer
www.timothywgreen.com


#7
The new school of thought is that you can learn the skills on your
own and that it pieces dont even have to have any craftsmanship
they just have to have a great thought process and idea behind them
and you have to be able to defend them 

I may get hate mail but…Boy I just don’t ‘get’ that way of
thinking. It amounts to, “This is jewelry making class. You’ll have
to figure it out by yourself. But we want you to think loftily. We’re
so glad your tuition is paid”.

No craftsmanship? What a complete disservice.

Yeah, go apply for a job with that on your cover letter. Better yet,
sink your parents’ life savings into a start-up and try to sell icky
made but conceptually great jewelry. And yes, I’m being completely
tongue in cheek.

Sorry to be blunt but…whew!


#8

Neil,

I may get hate mail but...Boy I just don't 'get' that way of
thinking. It amounts to, "This is jewelry making class. You'll
have to figure it out by yourself. But we want you to think
loftily. We're so glad your tuition is paid". 

Don’t be sorry… and this isn’t hate mail!

I totally agree with you. There seems to be a trend - worldwide -
that has diminished the skills of the craftsman and replaced it all
with theory. The “graduate” of whatever training they receive then
has to re-learn in order to work in the real world. Is this the
jewellery trade finally meeting the industrial revolution?

Gwen


#9

A number of years ago, Susan Cummins. gave a fascinating lecture at
the Academy of Art College in San Francisco. Ms. Cummins owned a
gallery in Mill Valley, CA that had a renowned reputation. The
presentation focused on a number of metal artists who were European
trained. As I recall, a few of these individuals were educated and
credentialed in Pforzheim,Germany. Their education was the best in
the world. They were GOLDSMITHS in every sense of the word.

After a time in working within the realm of the norm ie industry,
commercial individual pursuit, these exceptional jewelers decided to
pursue alternatives. One of the artists relocated to a rural area.
This site didn’t have power. She constructed pieces from materials
collected around her cottage. The pieces were stunning…Some folks
attending the talk hated the work, Others were quite taken by it.

Once you have gotten your chops down,and paid your dues, the rules
can be broken, bent, an sometimes thrown away. Who could render
better then Picasso? Forty years ago,I graduated from San Francisco
State College with a BA in Art, and a teaching credential. My
emphasis was in metal arts. After graduation, I had the privilege
of working for Van Craeynest, Inc. This family owned factory
produces one finest lines of jewelry in the world. Harry
Winston.Inc is one of there accounts. The synthesis of the
academic with the applications that I was taughtin the factory is
how I have attempted to invent my work, and myself. 

I am not a goldsmith. I taught metal arts/jewelry for 34 years thru
the San Francisco Recreation and Park Department. The majority of the
students who take classes at the Sharon Art Studio, were there for
the pure joy of self expression. I believe that I gave them the
"tools" to achieve their creative goals. If the question came up
about pursuing metal work as a career, I directed them to one of the
fine schools that specialize in this offering.

rp leaf


#10
That said. I still loved and cherished my university classes and
professor. I still believe in a liberal arts education. It just
won't get you a job in the industry. 

I agree, college was somewhat instructive and lots of fun. Not a
good preparation for my first real bench job, I learned that before
lunch on my first day on a real bench.

My favourite was the Business teacher… 3 times bankrupt before he
discovered fire. Good start for a teaching career :slight_smile:

jeffD
Demand Designs
Analog/Digital Modelling & Goldsmithing
http://www.gmavt.net/~jdemand


#11
Business, law, medecine, sports, education, forensics etc....
etc.... all teach towards job placement after college, 

What about Philosphy, Literature, Anthropology, Political Science?


#12
The "graduate" of whatever training they receive then has to
re-learn in order to work in the real world. Is this the jewellery
trade finally meeting the industrial revolution? 

No, this is a replay of the old fable where a man takes a bull to
the market in order to sell. On his way he meet a number of people
and
makes number of trades. He looses on every trade a little bit, but
when he eventually gets to the market, instead of a bull, he only has
a rooster.

When a student begins to study, s/he pays tuition and gets a bull or
opportunity to learn. Than trading starts. “Oh, this too old fashion,
there is a modern way which is easier and almost as good”. Using
method which is almost as good, one gets skill which almost as good.
On basis of this almost skill, the next skill is almost almost skill
and so it goes. At the end the student instead of the bull, for which
s/he paid, the student gets a rooster.

Leonid Surpin
www.studioarete.com


#13

The university community takes a different view of a university
education than does the civilian community: often referred to as
’town and gown’.

The university community does not see itself as providing a
vocational training: that is provided by others after graduation. The
’ideal’ university provides a ‘liberal’ education; not ‘liberal’ as
in politics; but ‘liberal’ as in broad, inclusive. One is taught to
be discriminating as in this is different from that; but not in a
judgmental way.

Things have changed since I was involved with a university. Schools
are now competing for dollars and trying to be more inclusive.
Ideally one could go to a university to get an education that will
help you to develop as an educated person, then go on to get your
vocational training at an institution or person more suitable for
vocational training.

I realize that the cost of education has become almost prohibitive;
something we as a country should rectify.

KPK


#14
There seems to be a trend - worldwide - that has diminished the
skills of the craftsman and replaced it all with theory. The
"graduate" of whatever training they receive then has to re-learn
in order to work in the real world. 

There will obviously be exceptions, but from my experience of
university (chemistry degree and one year of PhD), the vast majority
of academics are really only interested in doing research and being
published. Undergrads doing their first degrees are a necessary
evil, to get “bums on seats” so that the university has the necessary
funding to continue all that highbrow research. After I started my
chemistry degree, we were told that we were the last graduates who
would get chemistry degrees, as the chem department was being
closed. Thereafter, the science staff has to invent a load of new,
more popular-sounding courses which would attract students (and
therefore money) to the university. They started courses such as
forensic science, forensic psychology, sports science, etc - courses
which they knew would be useless to the students, as far as getting a
job at the end of them. The lecturers were extremely frustrated by
the situation, but their hands were tied.

The other problem seems to be that trades which were once learned in
the real world, via apprenticeships, are now shunted into the
universities and turned into degree courses, where they don’t
necessarily fit. It’s happening in all walks of life. Some medical
professions have also gone the same way. Nursing and midwifery used
to be learned solely in the hospital, but now they are degree
courses, where too much time is spent in the university classroom,
meaning that practical skills are sometimes sadly lacking.

I may be way off the mark, but from what I’ve seen, the poster who
said highbrow thinking was more important than skills in
universities, was making perfect sense. Jewellery trade schools such
as the Revere Academy have probably got the balance just right, and
it sounds as though they produce people who are more ready for the
real world than the universities do.

Helen
UK


#15

Yes you definitely should get a university degree in jewelery. With a
degree it becomes easy to get a job teaching it. Without it you may
have to make jewelry. And that is a pain in the arse.

Cheers,
Hans Durstling


#16

A university degree would be a degree in art. If the original poster
was looking to be educated in jewelry as art then there really is no
other way. The university contacts and networking would be
invaluable, a degree in education would also allow the artist to
teach in order to support their art. The exposure that a university
gives to the world of museums, student /faculty shows and the larger
world of art in general could be invaluable. If the original poster
wants to be a bench jewelry then a university degree could be seen
as a personal journey to a more interesting life, if such a journey
is finacially feasable or a way to avoid the real world for just a
few more years. Who doesn’t want that? If the original paster wants
to start working and earn income soon then the at least 4 years spent
at college would be more overhead to pay off and put off the income
potential for those same years.

It’s harder to go back to school after working in the real world
since life has a way of getting complicated as time passes so I
would say any young college age person who has a chance to go to
school should take advantage of that while they can.

Sam Patania
www.bahti.com


#17

Many students who obtain their degrees come to CIJT to get the
practical training, the support, the internship opportunities and
the much needed taste of the real world. Our class room is exactly
like a shop, not a school where the teacher is the leader and all
follow along. It is amazing the amount of interaction that takes
place in the course of a day. Just my two cents. Dee


#18

Hans,

Yes you definitely should get a university degree in jewelery.
With a degree it becomes easy to get a job teaching it. Without it
you may have to make jewelry. And that is a pain in the arse. " 

I’ve got to ask the question… Why get a degree in jewelry if you
don’t like making it?

Mark


#19
Yes you definitely should get a university degree in jewelery. With
a degree it becomes easy to get a job teaching it. With out it you
may have to make jewelry. And that is a pain in the arse.. " I've
got to ask the question... Why get a degree in jewelry if you don't
like making it? 

I thought this was a clever joke on the old adage:

Those that can, do.
Those that can’t teach.

The joke is:

Those that love do.
Those that hate, teach.

Please don’t take this literally because most teachers are great
because they do it because they love both makiing and teaching. It
is just that the rare bird that teaches because they hate doing must
have issues that should be explored outside of the classroom.


#20

Those that can’t teach become University lecturers–

Cheers for now,
JohnB of NZ