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Thursday, October 03, 2013

Trade in the security guards for art

I was really excited to see this happening. Principle Andrew Bott took a risk and reinvested the money into the art programs at Orchard Gardens, in Roxbury, MA notorious for violence and poor student test scores. It was a risky idea that was rewarded with improved academics and indirectly increased safety for students. But it makes me wonder a little bit of how our resources are spent and where the root of the problem lies.



It's a general feeling that the US public school system is always strapped for cash. Kids aren't doing well in their studies and violence is always around the corner. As a far away observer of the school system, I would ask the question, "Why does our school administration cut relatively low-cost classes that possibly help and aid children's learning?"

While I can't say that art can or can't help students sustain or improve their cognitive abilities it has been reported that there is some correlation between art training and improved overall learning. Will the arts make kids truly smarter? Not sure. Leave that to the brainiacs and luminaries of that field. But why cut a learning solution or more importantly a life solution that will make our kids just better?

Are schools that strapped and can't recognize a good thing?

Now I could draw before I could write. I learned to draw a circle because I observed that form in the physical world and was given a pencil and paper. That shape helped me figure out writing Roman letters such as the letter "O". Those same crudely drawn circles in my early youth helped me understand later the axioms and theorems of geometry and geometric ellipses. And that language of math helped me learn to think a little more logically. A bit of logical thinking can be quite useful in life and study. Between those intensive learning times, circle drawing was worked into many, many sketches and paintings of imaginary time machines, robots, trees, dragons and spaceships.

Now if that explanation was too "out there" for you let's approach it from a logistic standpoint.

Kids start to do art. They learn to communicate in a expressive way. They learn how some art supplies work. They possibly might gain an interest or a trade through doing their art. They could learn some life skills like following through on a large project. They could gain some confidence and passion along the way. Maybe they find a natural seque into non-art-related things because they've been doing art for some time. Perhaps that time of doing art (and possibly non-art) they have not spent time doing harmful things like rioting, or punching baby dolphins. End result, kids stay out of trouble and find some joy.

It's never that cut and dry, nor that elementary. But we have to find a way to keep or add those classes because those benefits outweigh the costs. Honestly, we shouldn't cut out a good thing (and this includes sports, too.)

Ultimately, I would agree with poet, Dana Giola who gave a great quote during the 2007 commencement address at Stanford University. “Art is an irreplaceable way of understanding and expressing the world... There are some truths about life that can be expressed only as stories, or songs, or images. Art delights, instructs, consoles. It educates our emotions.” 
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