This article, published by Ideas.com and written by education researcher Ken Robinson and author Lou Aronica, is another raindrop in the storm that is the fight for a well-rounded education. Robinson’s argument, although not new, is as important as ever when budget cuts are being made across the country, and art programs are being slashed. What Mr. Robinson points to is a slew of statistics and research that bring hard, scientific facts to the fight for the liberal arts.
To me, perhaps the most interesting aspect of the article is the case study that involved Dancing Classrooms. The fact that ballroom dancing had such a great impact on students' test scores was incredible, and the actual numbers that the argument presents leaves little room for debate or dispute. I think the study showcases an interesting point - the most successful students are the most well rounded. Activating another part of the brain and approaching problems in a different way allows for more creativity and more innovative solutions.
I think the most meaningful aspect of this article is the facts it presents. Yes, the testimonials are compelling. Yes, the argument he presents is sound and is one I strongly believe. However, I think the best way to convince people that the arts are meaningful is to show them data that they cannot ignore. School systems spend millions of dollars trying to find ways to raise test scores and often completely overlook the value of investing in an arts education. Art programs allow for creative problem solving, outlets for self-expression, unique perspectives on life, and an overall avenue for pursuing passions. The well-rounded student is one who not only can ace a test or score a goal, but one who can appreciate and understand the world around them.
Simply put, art and theatre are extremely important. There are powerful and meaningful stories in this world that can only be expressed through a picture or on a stage. Telling stories bridges gaps, allows people to get out of their own head, increases awareness in the world, and makes everyone feel a little less alone. There is perhaps no better feeling in the world than seeing a piece of art or watching a performance and seeing yourself in the expression. This unity is important, and stories can influence and change lives.
However, this message is not getting through to educators and school administrators. As a firm believer in the power of the arts, this is frustrating. The reasons for this lack of emphasis is complicated, but I think most of the reservations come about because for so long America has placed its value in distinguishable measure of success; we are a very fame driven society, instead of a family and relationship driven one. Obviously a complete reworking of the American value system is not realistic, but a look into other cultures and a reevaluation of ideals can go a long way towards solving the problem. Recognizing that a person is much more than a GPA or a standardized test score is a radical but desperately needed change that this society needs to make.
What do you think about the trend of cutting arts programs? Do you agree or disagree with my opinion on how to change things? Share your thoughts below!