Should it be Us vs. Them? (from Arts Watch)

Posted by Tim Mikulski, May 26, 2010 3 comments

Tim Mikulski

As I covered in last week’s Arts Watch blog post (Glee-fully Supporting Arts Education), it certainly seems like the same three or four subject areas are continually battling it out for that last spot into the school building, before the funding door shuts.

Often, it is arts education classes like music, dance, theater, and art that are left out in the cold, but sometimes we’re joined by physical education, foreign languages, library services, and now even formerly-free afterschool sports.

Glee characters Will Schuster and Sue Sylvester battled in out over funding for the glee club or the cheerleading squad, but I’m sure just as often we are seeing Señor Schuster and the media specialist from the library having the same conversation that always starts with, “my subject area/sport deserves to stay funded because…”

While I’m not encouraging dancers, actors, French lovers, and information gatherers to storm the west wing of their school in a battle to the death against language arts, calculus, and physics fiends, I feel that we could be more equitable in the way that all of these subjects are taught in schools today.

Of course, No Child Left Behind has put an undue focus on testing, – something the arts and foreign languages have been left out of - but that doesn’t mean kids should be cheated out of learning things they will carry with them throughout the rest of their lives.

Without music class, I would never have learned The Rainbow Connection or sung a Russian holiday song.

Without art class, I would never have learned that I have little talent, but a true appreciation for those that do.

Without theater, I would never have had the chance to feel what it was like to have an audience full of people laughing at a joke you delivered perfectly.

Without physical education, I would never have had any exercise (and this was before the anti-childhood obesity movement really took off).

Without foreign language, I would never had visited France as a fortunate high schooler.

Without library sciences, I would never have been able to figure out how to navigate the Dewey decimal system (okay, so I’m showing my age a little).

My point is that all of these common “first to cut” classes and activities are as valuable to the students as math and science, and some even more (when is that last time you solved a proof at work?).

Should all of the outsider subject areas united as one voice to spread that message? What do you think?

3 responses for Should it be Us vs. Them? (from Arts Watch)


Tim Mikulski says
May 27, 2010 at 10:35 am

Keep plugging away, Monise, and let us know if we can be of any assistance.

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May 26, 2010 at 5:45 pm

Excellent post..and I had those same feelings, especially considering that I have been driven to develop a visual & performing arts charter school in my community. The district said there is no way possible to have the kind of schedule we proposed: Kids have 2 arts classes each week on a MWF/TH schedule. I am not one to take no for an answer, so I will keep plugging away and finding new ways to bring arts to my community, mostly minority and many of the schools are Title I schools. Looking forward to learning more and becoming more knowledgeable about increasing/strengthening arts/education programs.

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Meagan says
May 27, 2010 at 2:25 am

Frankly, yes. Like you, I feel that these areas are just as, if not more, important than the tested subject areas. The "outsider" subject areas allow students to learn about themselves and the world around them in ways that the traditional subjects cannot, so perhaps there should be more of a group effort to continue to value and fund the oft forgotten education departments.

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