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15
Jan

Arts Education – When Will We Be Heard?

The arts play critical role education. When learning is approached through, with and by the visual and performing arts, creativity is cultivated, innovative thinking is fostered and imagination is both celebrated and enhanced. Learning occurs with far greater depth and breadth, thereby increasing retention, comprehension and academic achievement. Student engagement, intrigue, higher order thinking skills and motivated pursuit of lifelong learning are catalyzed. The effects upon students’ social, emotional and cognitive growth are tremendous and invaluable. Moral, practical and ethical character traits are developed and strengthened. Culture- our humanity, is celebrated, developed and perpetuated.

Without these significant and research-proven effects, the progress of our society is severely impeded. This is no longer theory; We’re now watching the predictions of arts education proponents unfold, and at a rapid rate.

Yet still… we’ve seen nothing but degeneration in the presence of and given value to the arts in education. Perhaps we ought to call them something different? Maybe then, they will listen, they will respond, they will act… they will search creatively for ways by which to provide the arts, for all.

So, why not call it Creativity Education? Or, simply Comprehensive Education? Enriched Comprehensive Education? Superior Academic Achievement Socially Emotionally Healthy Successful Service-Oriented Strong Character Global Citizen Empathy Fulfillment Violence Prevention Creativity Innovation Problem-Solving Critical-Thinking Education? Naa, that’s too long. But still, it doesn’t touch come close to outlining all of the proven benefits of comprehensive arts education.

So, yes-
comprehensive fine arts education accomplishes far more than cultivating creativity in youth, but because it’s name has apparently been such a detrimental stumbling block to its due role and sustainability in education, it’s high time we begin calling it something that may at least appeal to SOME education policy decision-makers. Unsuccessful in so doing thus far have been extensive longitudinal studies by every sort of expert conceivable, countless education publications, educator, parent and student testimonials, etc., etc… even the craftiest and most creative / extreme or otherwise unique approaches have been attempted by the arts advocacy world, to little or no avail. There exists literally more undisputed research and other evidence than can be reviewed by a person over the course of a lifetime. Essentially, the ongoing neglect of the arts in education is absolutely mind-boggling. Perplexing. Confounding. And grossly underestimated are the devastating implications of this neglect. Some, like New York City Board of Education’s Mark Naison, go to the extent of calling it child abuse.

Shouldn’t that sound somebody’s alarm up there in the la la land of Ed policy-making?

Since I mentioned him, I’ll leave you with a few words that Dr. Mark Naison said:

“When public schools are judged by how much art and music they have, by how many science experiments their students perform, by how much time they leave for recess and play, and by how much food they grow rather than how many tests they administer, then I will be confident that we are preparing our students for a future where they will be creative participants and makers of history rather than obedient drones for the ruling economic elite.”

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