I found I could say things with color and shapes that I couldn’t say any other way – things I had no words for.
The new school year is starting and I’d like to hear how much art students get? Do children in preschool do art? Kindergartners—how much art will they find between Response to Intervention and reading rigor? Is art scheduled once a day? Once a week? Rarely? How much art do elementary students receive—really?
Does your child’s school have a room dedicated to the arts and a fully qualified art teacher? How much access have teachers to art equipment and resources? Does the art room have a kiln? A potter’s wheel?
It’s nice to have local art museums send artisans to schools to show their craft, or discuss with children the beauty of the arts. But they should not be seen as qualified art teachers in public school.
Also, blended art is not really enough art. Some art involved with other subjects is fine, of course. But it makes the arts an afterthought. The arts should also stand alone as a stable part of the curriculum.
Don’t forget high school students. Does the current trend to push Advanced Placement (AP) crowd out the arts? There are AP art classes in some places, but must high school students miss out on the arts in order to get the best high school rankings to get into college? Students in high school should be expected to get art credits.
How much art do children with disabilities get? When a child has difficulties with academics, the arts can be uplifting—building confidence and stamina to work harder at more challenging subjects. When children believe they can master something creative, it boosts self-confidence and helps them do better in other areas.
The arts also provide a wonderful opportunity for students with disabilities to thrive next to their peers.
So what art programs do you see in your child’s school?
This is an important question. A whole generation of kids being denied the arts is mistake of gigantic proportions! It is certainly worthy of political debate. Where do the Presidential candidates stand when it comes to the arts in public schools?
I have written about the loss of the arts many times, and I thought about it again, when I recently visited the Art Institute of Chicago. I love this place. Apparently other people do too because the Institute has been voted the best museum in the world!
As I gazed at art, I noticed people from many countries enjoying the arts too. There is universal appreciation of the arts that brings people together. It is culturally significant.
We marvel at the art of the past, current art, and we wonder about the art of the future. But where will the art come from if America’s students are denied the arts in their schools? I wonder.
How many future artists are ignored? What great art will be lost–never discovered–because no one nurtured the artist in the child?
I suggest, as the new school year begins, that parents monitor how much art students bring home or accomplish at school. Ask the teacher how much art will be done and who will be teaching art. If it isn’t enough, if there are no credentialed art teachers, and/or exposure to the arts is lacking, get together with other parents and approach the PTA, and the school board, and demand a reinstatement of all art programs and credentialed teachers.
This isn’t a fight only for children to get art, but for our future way of life.