End of an Era

Desk of an art teacher at the end of 38 years

I read that the art teach in my home town is retiring after 38 years.   It makes me worry that in this economy and changing values in our schools that they may choose not to replace him.  It worries me that today we place so much emphasis on doing well on the standardized tests.  We place little value on creating well rounded adults with a well rounded background.

We have eliminated gym or PE classes in our schools because our children need more hours reading.   Yet we have a group of children that are fatter and even obese that was so rare in the days when we were expected to go out and play before school, during morning recess, during lunch, during afternoon recess and yes my parents expected in the evening too.   In spite of eliminating gym, we are repeatedly told our kids reading scores are worse than ever.  Getting rid of gym did not solve the problem but created new ones.

Many schools have eliminated the music programs and few kids are participating in the programs that are left.   Have you listened to the music of today?   I know folks thought the Stones were terrible when I was a kid, but at least there was actually a melody in all of that.   Our lyrics were outrages, as I think some of today’s are, but I shake my head in wonder why I can’t find something in those songs to hum along with.  Music and band programs exposed to all kinds of music that many of us would never have been exposed to in our homes.     We  developed tastes liking some kinds, others just not being our cup of tea.

The Jr. High Art Classroom

Art is  program that has been either eliminated or they expect a regular teacher to give a kids some crayons and call that art.  Kids never get the chance to explore the different forms and mediums of art.  They don’t have an art teacher to nurture them along.   Many kids will never get to visit an art gallery or museum.  They won’t get the opportunity to see that art has no limits.  They will never get to develop an appreciation for art under the tutelage of a season art teacher that will last them a lifetime.

We have changed our school systems and eliminated in many cases the liberal arts because we think we need to spend more time on the core subjects and get them ready for college.  Yet we are told our students lag behind other countries.   Studies continue to harp that kids today don’t know how to relax and they have too much multitasking.  Art and music are recognized as therapy but we don’t allow them to to do learn and explore these in our schools because we think they those programs are expendable.

I attended a school in a small rural town of about 5,000 people where most of my friends parents had never gone beyond high school and worked at one of the many blue color jobs in the area.  Yet we had Art and Music classes as a required subject  from kindergarten until  high school.   When you got to high school you can choose to further develop your talents in  sculpture, painting, drawing, vocal, and instrumental music.   I think our parents turned out a pretty good bunch of kids.   I hope the community continues to recognize what a jewel they in education.

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