I am blessed. I have several artists in my life. The walls in my home are adorned with an eclectic mix of visual art that has been given to me over the years by my friends and family. The iPod connected to our surround sound stereo is playing beautiful, experimental, and profound music most of the time. We read often. We write often. Together, we enjoy theatre and dance. Our son has various musical instruments strung throughout the house. He recently saved his money to put an electric guitar on layaway at our local music store. If you come to visit, a musical instrument is not far from reach.
I have no idea where I would be if I wasn’t surrounded by art. I certainly doubt that my life would be as rich, colorful, or adventurous without it. All disciplines of the arts mark our time in history. We can better understand the past by studying the art forms of the times while embracing the human condition that is driven by emotion. Today’s art is no different. Today’s artists can’t be forgotten.
Research has shown that implementing the arts in education across the curriculum improves student performance in school, including retention rates and increased test scores. I see on a daily basis how important the arts are to lifelong success. Creativity is everywhere. I don’t know of anyone who has succeeded without it, and learning how to channel that creativity is empowering. Exercising artistic talent expands the mind. It also allows a different and effective approach to teaching and learning. For some students, it is the highlight of their school career. For others, it’s the beginning of a new life. Tomorrow’s artists cannot be stifled.
Late last week, I received a call from my good friend and favorite artist. She is a high school art teacher in Indiana who was teaching in the perfect creative environment. The school had a team of art teachers that offered classes in photography, pottery, 3-D art, drawing, painting, music, dance, drama, and others that I can’t remember right now. Last week, she and other art teachers received a pink slip by mail due to the declining focus of arts in the classroom. To me, it is heartbreaking. As an extremely talented artist and teacher, she will find a new venue to grow her gift (hopefully, that will happen in another classroom). Her students, however, are the true victims of this decision made by school officials. They have produced some incredible art. Some of which is included in my own collection. The students participate in the Empty Bowls project to end hunger. How rich is that?
My niece and nephew’s school tossed out the arts when they learned it was no longer being tested in the Interim Reform period. The kids are so sad. They really enjoyed and looked forward to art class. Both are very creative and talented in visual art. They will be fine, though, because they have a family that supports the arts and caters to their talents. This is not always the case.
We are fortunate that our son’s district has not removed the arts from the curriculum. I am happy to learn that Kentucky’s new core standards will eventually bring back the arts. Anyone who has studied teaching and learning must know that the creative exercises in the brain are what keep it active. Stifling that breeds failure on so many levels.
Though the tone of this post is a little blue, I have a strong hope that the arts will once again be a strong component in our education standards. I am so proud that KET has dedicated hours and hours to the arts. Our teams have produced many brilliant arts resources for teachers, students, and individuals. The KET Arts Toolkits are being aligned to the social studies standards. Learning history with art? What a great idea! Take a peek when you have a while. You will definitely want to linger in the fascinating world of art.