The One when the Art History Buff went to Dental School

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

My hubby did a guest post on the Art History Salon blog which I'm copying and pasting here cuz I find it quite interesting.
The Dentist, Gerrit van Honthorst, 1622
(See, they even had dentists back in 1622!)

"One of the most frequent questions a college student is asked is, “What is your major?” Now for me, this conversation would go one of two ways.

Conversation 1:

Person: “So, what are you majoring in?”
Me: “Art History.”

*Pause where person would have to determine whether or not I was serious.*

Person: “Oh. So…what are you going to do with that?”
Me: “Go to dental school.”

*Person laughs, thinking I’m joking, then they realize I’m not.*

Person: “How does that work?”

Quite well actually.

Conversation 2:

Person: “So, what do you want to do?” (as in, with my future.)
Me: “I am planning on becoming a dentist.”
Person: “So, what’s your major? Biology? Chemistry?”
Me: “No, actually. I am majoring in Art History.”
Person: “Oh… that’s fun...”

Yes, it is. But that isn’t the reason I chose Art History as my major. It seemed that I often had a hard time explaining my seemingly conflicting choices of career and undergraduate major, but to me, they were never conflicting in the slightest.

The most important aspect of a major is learning to think. I could have majored in a science and spent most of my undergraduate time memorizing facts for a test and then forgotten those facts shortly thereafter. But, in the study of art history, I learned how to analyze. I learned how to organize and present my thoughts. I learned how to make coherent arguments based on evidence. These skills, the skills of learning and assimilating knowledge, rather than just rote memorization, have been more beneficial to me since my time at BYU than anything else could have been in my undergraduate education.

As most college graduates can attest, the actual facts and figures that you spend hours memorizing for exams are quickly lost to time. But, if you approach your education with the goal of learning to reason, think, and observe, you will truly gain an education worth obtaining. This will be an education that will benefit you no matter what field you go in to.

From my experience, majoring in Art History was the perfect discipline to cultivate those skills, and more students should consider this field of study in preparation for all manner of graduate programs and career fields, from law to dentistry to medicine to business—and more."

Well said Christopher :)


  1. I loved all my art history classes. I wanted to major in it, but BYU wouldn't let me because I was already majoring in Studio Art. Weird.

  2. From a fellow Art History major in undergrad- i totally get this! It is the BEST major. :)

  3. i call my husband christopher too. ;-)

  4. I know him. And I like to think he calls me "friend".

  5. I love, love, love this post!!! Can I use this for art advocacy at school? I would love to read this to my students!


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