The Case for Art Education

Discussion in 'Ethics and Philosophy' started by SuzanneR, Sep 2, 2007.

  1. SuzanneR

    SuzanneR Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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  2. TheFlyingCamera

    TheFlyingCamera Membership Council Council

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  3. Wilbur Wong

    Wilbur Wong Member

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    Thanks, I enjoyed the read and will pass it on.
     
  4. Pinholemaster

    Pinholemaster Member

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    Terrific. I just sent the link to all my students.
     
  5. Dave Wooten

    Dave Wooten Subscriber

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    Thanks Suzanne,

    Great article. Having spend nearly 30 years in the classroom teaching music, art appreciation, and/or photography, the annual debate and defense to justify our positions and subect matter seems second nature. In many school districts these programs are or have been cut entirely for the sake of budget. It seems to run in cycles.

    Any one out there with a budget situation for your local schools? They cut music and the arts first, athletics often last, both are needed and a most necessary component of the educational process.
     
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  6. sun of sand

    sun of sand Member

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    What about the case for education itself lol
    It all matters and is all important in producing creativity
    making a case for each individual class is a waste of effort as it will never work
    Making a case for one class only pins another
    Next year the battle will be theirs and on and on

    Why not just pay more so that our kids can have it all?
    But really what we need is better teachers/more teachers or an entire change in the system
    I think we teach specific "things" instead of allowing children to learn as they would naturally if you just made things available for them to understand

    I think the biggest mistake is in believing children are too dumb to learn on their own ..more or less
     
  7. bruce terry

    bruce terry Member

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    What a wonderful fleshing-out of what 'art' instruction can do for the brain – particularly the little, growing, spongy brain of a kid.

    Our granddaughter just started Kindergarten last week and her parents and grandparents must see that she perceives, envisions, innovates and reflects more than we, for the world that's coming sure isn't this one.

    Thanks Suzanne for pointing out this invigorating article, that warns 'art' mustn't be dismissed.
     
  8. eddym

    eddym Member

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    Excellent article, thanks. I've passed it on to several people, including my wife, who is both an artist and an educator.
     
  9. Dave Wooten

    Dave Wooten Subscriber

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    Save the Music and Art...

    I deleted above post because I could not get a Boston Glove article address to upload...

    in any case to my point earlier about these articles being cyclic; articles in defense of music and the arts position in public schools and justification for their presence and expense. A search of the Boston Globe articles will uncover that due to budget restraints and the cost and strain on schools trying to meet the mandates of the "No Child Left Behind" government programs, music and art budgets have been cut and in some cases drastically. Often Parents and student organizations raise money to keep at least parts of the programs alive. In defense of the programs you see college education departments and teachers union and teachers professional arts and music organizations i.e. Music Educators Association etc. writing and publishing articles and arguments in defense of their programs. There is also shortage of teachers entering these fields and as a result in some college and university education programs, enrollment is at an all time low. If the school districts do not offer the subject in the curriculum, of course there are no jobs in that subject and students do not seek that certification.

    The benefits of such programs and their positive effect is well known and documented. Arguments must be reiterated when school boards take the easy way out and justify the cuts in order to elevate scores in another identified and highly accountable (measurable) deficiency area.
     
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  10. SuzanneR

    SuzanneR Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    Dave... thanks for your posts... I would say it must be tiresome for art/music/drama (and maybe a few photo) teachers to have to justify what they teach each year. Math teachers, it seems, are never burdened with such trivialities. And yet, aside from balancing my checkbook, math has never been particularly essential to my adult life. Why then, are the math teacher's never asked how their role is so important?

    Perhaps, when cuts need to be made, they should be made across the board... to all subjects. Then, perhaps, the burden of justifying our education won't always fall to the art and music teachers. Let a few math teacher's shoulder the burden. Ha!! let them organize a few bake sales! :tongue:

    We can probably agree that U.S schools need to be improved across the board... how to get there is another matter, but I found this Globe story made a very strong case for a well rounded education.

    In other words... if cuts need to be made... make them everywhere... not just in the arts. It's silly to think the arts are an indulgence.
     
  11. TheFlyingCamera

    TheFlyingCamera Membership Council Council

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    ...
     
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  12. Dave Wooten

    Dave Wooten Subscriber

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    A + B = dissonance

    Suzanne,

    The answer has always been cut, cut , cut, and put a band aid on the bleeding and thus the cycle...the answer is not to cut, do not pit one discipline against the other. The answer is to support, and to fund. School boards, state legislatures and many administration teams, and I might add faculty members, are inefficient and non creative. Cutting programs has not historically been the answer. Ask yourself and many teachers what effect and affect the "No Child Left Behind" program has had on your school, your learning environment and your ability to effectively teach.
     
  13. SuzanneR

    SuzanneR Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    Dave.. for the most part I agree, but I live in a town that is pricing senior citizens out of their homes. I'd like to see a few more cuts to the school administration before individual cuts happen to different classes.

    They have threatened to close one of our local elementary schools in short order, but they never threaten to close the old school building that now houses the administration of the school district. Seems it's better for the kids to be overcrowded, than for the administrators.

    This is a frustrating topic, Dave, and I'm not sure we are that far apart on it, but I hate to see the burden of justifying it fall to just a few teachers.
     
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  15. Dave Wooten

    Dave Wooten Subscriber

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    Nope we are agreeing, bottom line, local taxes ( property etc. ) can not support the school systems, most administrations are top heavy. The silent cut is of course also the low salaries of teachers. Here teachers can not afford housing, yet we have 23 or 24 of the world s largest hotels, quarterly profits are at all time highs. Average working life of a teacher coming here now is less than 3 years, even if you love the occupation, you have to pay the bills....

    I do not know what the answer is but "the times they are a changing"
     
  16. dslater

    dslater Subscriber

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    But those seniors are not being priced out because the town needs to raise money for the school - they're being priced out because the housing market bubble has increased the value of their homes so much. Indeed, with the rise in home values, there should be more money available for schools - so the question is, where is all this money going?
     
  17. copake_ham

    copake_ham Inactive

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    I really do not understand this statement.

    If the seniors own their homes - how are they being "priced out"?

    Aren't they the "sellers"; not the "buyers"?
     
  18. dslater

    dslater Subscriber

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    The value of their homes has risen so much, they can no longer afford to pay the property taxes
     
  19. Wyno

    Wyno Member

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    Suzanne,
    thanks for the link. I have passed it on the education manager for the visual arts degree at the tertiary institution I work at. He was very pleased to get it as he is being pressuered to cut costs, especially in the photography and life drawing areas.
    Mike
     
  20. SuzanneR

    SuzanneR Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    Yes... this is what I mean... they can't afford to pay the property taxes, and many must sell their homes.

    Oddly enough, our housing market has dropped of late, but for some reason... our property taxes have not fallen as well. Go figure.

    I don't have the answer to the dilemma of funding education. But I'm pretty sure local property taxes is a far from ideal solution.
     
  21. SuzanneR

    SuzanneR Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    Dunno... I have a few guesses... heatlh care benefits for town employees seems a big one... and health care benefits for the teachers and staff at the schools.
     
  22. eddym

    eddym Member

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    Suzanne, read Savage Inequalities: Children in America's Schools by Jonathan Kozol for a good insight on the inherent unfairness of America's tax structure for financing education.
     
  23. Jim Chinn

    Jim Chinn Member

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    Teaching art in the schools is important, if for no other reason then to open up minds to alternative ways to problem solve and create. Research shows that there are distinct differences in how different people problem solve. Art is basically a study of how to solve problems visually and think abstractly.

    Many children have the opportunity to continue informal art education at home with the encouragement of parents through music and crafts and visual arts. Middle class parents can afford the piano lessons, dance classes and endless trips to the art supply store. The real importance of art in school is to expose kids who do not have financial means to do these things on their own.

    The problem with most school districts is an over abundance of administrators and support staff that soaks up a huge amount of the operating budget.

    20 years ago the administration for Omaha public schools occupied a modest sized structure (a very large old victorian house) and some ancillary office buildings. Then the school board decided to spend millions refurbing an old high school (one of the biggest in the district) to use for its headquarters. According to early 20th century socioligist Max Weber, one of the laws of beauracracies is that they will spend money to fill any space provided for it regardless of the need. We went from a few dozen folks running the whole district to several hundred in a few years. The number of students has increased about 20% in that time. In the years since the move to the high school, test scores declined over the years, only recently getting back to levels from the early 80s.

    Another example is the school my children attend. An Omaha Catholic school, (grades K-8) it has about 670 students. The school was founded in 1955 and had about 2/3rds the space it does now and taught close to 1200 students. At one time it was the largest Catholic grade school in the US. If you do a little research on those kids from the late 50s and early 60s who went through that school, you find little or no difference in the percentage that went on to high school and college after attending one of the better grade schools in the area, public or private. Why could they do so well with so much less?

    We use way to much technology in the classroom, almost to the point it becomes a crutch for teachers, masking the incompetence of some. We don't hold parents accountable for their children's learning, and think that if we just throw more money at the schools it will solve the problems.

    I have no problem with spending money on education. Just get rid of half the cushy admin jobs and pay good teachers a good salary. And get rid of the incompetent ones.
     
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  24. markbb

    markbb Member

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    How do you suppose cameras, lenses, films, developers, papers etc. are designed? Unless you live in a cave, every part of your modern life is dependent on mathematics, including the ability to post your thoughts on here.
     
  25. SuzanneR

    SuzanneR Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    Yup... I don't disagree. Though, very admittedly, I've let others do the math for me! :tongue:

    Well rounded education includes math, arts, and a number of other subjects. So why are the arts less valuable than math when the inevitable cuts come. Why not cut everywhere instead of just targeting the arts?

    Of course, the real problem are the cuts... finding creative funding solutions is the crux of the matter. Even if we can come up with creative and fair funding, I'd still like to see smaller administration staff in our local school.
     
  26. jovo

    jovo Membership Council Council

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    The original basis for publicly funded education was to prepare the American work force to participate in the jobs that were created during the industrial revolution. Being able to read, write and compute served industry, and only secondarily served to survey the culture which arguably had a role to play in industry as well (advertising depends on creative, skilled writers, artists and musicians for example). Currently, technology pervades the public schools to a greater or lesser degree depending on their ability to fund the machines (generously underwritten by technology companies which serves their own agenda down the road.) and software. That is a clear reflection of its utility in business and industry, and continues the tradition of serving the American economy. As a teacher, though, I feel assailed from year to year as new software is introduced that I am expected to learn and use in my teaching even though the last generation of software still does the job it did in the first place. Granted, that's overstating it a bit, but not as much as you might think. Still, teachers are charged with imparting a fundamental core of knowledge and skills for which software is a useful assistant, but by no means an end all.

    Happily, the district in which I teach, and the one in which I live strongly support the arts and have never even proposed a cut let alone made one, but it's not something one can take for granted. An article such as Suzanne linked to is still vital evidence of the value of art (and arts) education and needs to be seen by as many board members, administrators and taxpayers as possible. Thanks, Suzanne for the reference!
     
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