Tuesday, May 03, 2011

Public Schools Still Make Room for Art

Despite the obsession in the educational establishment with the three Rs, the great majority of public elementary and secondary schools still offer instruction in music and the visual arts, according to a 2009-10 survey by the National Center for Education Statistics. Among elementary schools, 94 percent offer music and 83 percent offer visual art classes. Among secondary schools the figures are 91 and 89 percent, respectively. On board to teach these subjects at most schools are full-time art specialists.

1 comment:

Amy said...

"Despite the obsession in the educational establishment with the three Rs"

Hmmm..do you have kids?

I ask because I used to feel the way you do before kids.

And then I had a couple. And in thinking about what they would need for their lives, the point of school is to gain *academic* skills. Or the 3 "Rs".

Art and music happen spontaneously outside of academia. For the truly gifted, you can't stop them. And I'd argue that the best music and art happens completely outside of formal academic settings. I've never heard once of an artist who made who said "My 3rd grade music/art class inspired me to greatness." Most of the time, school was something they needed to chuck as quickly as possible to get on with their creative lives.

On the other hand, my children will probably not spontaneously learn to read, write, or understand mathematics without academic training. Your reasonable stable job, is in fact, a testament to the need for such training. And that's why we developed schools. Music and art can really only be considered enrichment activities, or 1 off activities for schools.

And ultimately, the band members are at least risk for dropping out by high school. If I had to keep only 1 enrichment activity in a world of severe budget cuts, it would be sports. Sports participation offers discipline and the direct incentive to keep their grades up for a group mostly likely to drop out.

So I guess count me as those who would like to see more emphasis on the 3 Rs, not less.