Music and Love Go a Long Way

Posted: April 10, 2012 in Uncategorized

Music and Love Go a Long Way

I’ve never been one to emphasize the importance of arts funding in education–I guess because I was focused on the importance of literacy, but I think there might be more to it than that.  I think maybe I’ve been slow to realize the value of arts, particularly for poor children.  I’ll be doing some research to look for data on that, any readers who know of such sources are encouraged to post them.

I think education for poor children needs three critical things, in addition to the de-emphasis on standardized testing that ALL students and teachers need–one is year round schooling (meaning more days in school, not the old model where it’s the same ten months, just spaced out differently) from Pre-K to third grade, and that schooling must mimic the types of interactions and experienced that school-ready children get at home.  Authentic conversations, questioning, and exposure to scientific principles, in addition to varied experiences with the arts–music, performance, and stories.  Our culture perpetuates itself through these means.  Young people who are not included in these experiences become disengaged youth and disenfranchised adults.  So many of the learning experiences they are expected to value and participate in later are related to these foundational ideas–inquiry, empathy, creativity, and shared history, that if we don’t provide them, we can’t hope to keep these children interested in school.

Speaking of which, I have to go read to my son about the shark attacks of 1916.

Things two and three are arts funding for all students, particularly for underserved children, because as I said above, these programs not only uplift and develop the depth of the soul, they help to create functioning, concerned citizens, and more technical education for kids starting in middle school.  Thanks to NCLB, kids know for sure whether or not they’re decent students by the time they’re nine.  By age 12, if they know they aren’t good readers, smart math students, and good test takers, they realize school has little to offer them except an annual kick in the teeth and seven hours of grind each day at things they don’t care about and aren’t good at.

  1. momshieb says:

    I completely agree with you about needing a full year of school, for all children. I also would love a longer school day. I teach in an upper middle class district where children have every advantage, but we still face some of the same challenges. By the fifth grade (where I teach) kids have identified themselves as “smart” or “not smart”, thanks to the constant testing and scoring. Many of them are already giving up, and are using school as a place to rest up before the multiple sports/lessons/activities in which they participate.
    As for funding the arts: after 25 years in special education and the regular education classroom, and having raised three children myself, I know that for many children the path to intellectual curiosity and to literacy comes directly through a love of music, art and theater.

    • Miss Desiree says:

      Thanks so much for your comment! I hesitate to say I’d like a longer school year and a longer day, because I shudder to think what the current mentality would do for with that extra time–probably spend it on ‘remediation’ and ‘increased accountability’. It’s frightening, really.

      I also really enjoyed your remark about what the arts does for kids–the NEA just released a report detailing what arts education does for poor children. It’s so sad to me to see kids completely disengaged from education and our shared culture by the time they reach middle school as a result of having nothing in the school day to look forward to, in addition to knowing they’re not ‘smart’ because we have told them as much through their test scores by age 9.

      This country is going to be in dire straits when the kids who are being disenfranchised by these practices come of age and refuse to engage in *anything* beyond their own entertainment.

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