It’s been over six months since I wrote on this subject. My last blog post Daily Arts Instruction Helps Everyone was pretty short, but it showed my passion for the subject. The original post was my opinion on the piece I’d read called 3 Awful Things That Happen When Children are Denied Daily Arts Instruction in Schools. As my opinion piece says, there wasn’t much shocking about this article. I did however come up with a pretty profound closing:
I’m not sure what happened between the time my mom was a kid, the time I was a kid and 2016 to cause the school systems of america to be so utterly different, but if my mom’s generation had daily arts instruction and I had daily arts instruction, wouldn’t the school districts see the importance of these programs and continue them with my daughter’s generation?
So the question then becomes. What does happen to kids when they are denied daily arts instruction? Is this article true when it lists the following three things that happen?
A vicious cycle of killing creativity continues.*
Killing creativity may seem like an extreme statement. That’s what the constraints of a normal school day do to a child.
This year, in the kindergarten class I volunteer in, I’ve seen fewer and fewer art projects on their schedule. I can’t say for sure that they are completely gone. I am only there a few hours on Thursday mornings. If I compare last year and this year, there are fewer hours of my time spent on arts. More spent on teaching the kids to read. As much as I want to say that this is a bad thing, it really shows that they are working more on academics. The kids of this year are stronger readers than last year. I have to wonder at what cost does this reading skill come at?
When I think about Kindergarten and 1st grade I think of the leprechaun feet that were on the wall of our classroom. And the songs we sang. We sang a lot of songs. What grade does that stop in? Now that I’m working with kids learning to read, I haven’t got a clue about what I did when I was learning. I don’t remember sitting at a desk trying to sound out words!
In the later grades I can still remember the states in alphabetical order due to a choir concert, not a classroom lesson. I was just joking with my husband that I know the lyrics to 80s and 90s songs, but can’t remember what is on my grocery list!
It seems like these days academics are pushed further and further down into the younger grades. What we once were learning in 5th grade we are learning in 4th and 4th in 3rd and so on, so that even in kindergarten we are getting rid of the play and replacing it with work.
The Achievement Gap widens.*
For many kids the only arts instruction that they will ever have the opportunity to be exposed to is the lessons that are presented in the school system they attend. With many of these disciplines, it’s early lessons that lead to great works later on in their lives. Artist rarely pick up a pen or paintbrush and create a Mona Lisa without years of work. And when it comes to music, the chopsticks might not be entertaining but they are important when one wants to write the 1812 overture.
In these moments of art instruction, children find joy and achievement. When they don’t find them sitting at a desk there isn’t another place for them to find them. Without this pull of arts to keep them in the classrooms there are significant volumes of children that fall out of the school system.
Another generation grows up believing people are born creative.*
Its amazing how many people think that artists are born that way and musicians just play and sing that way. Yes, there is some God given talent, but you don’t usually hear about the early days.
You don’t see them when they are spending hours in a music room. Missing are the tapes of them marching with a marching band. Playing on a block of wood when their parents can’t stand the sound of them drumming isn’t cool.
You don’t see the piles of rejected paintings and drawings. The misshapen shapes on the page of an artist when they are five aren’t sold in Southerby’s or made into calendars and postcards.
Why? Because that’s the boring part. Well it’s the boring part that children need. The repetition, the learning and the mistakes are what make up all those masterpieces! Kids need to know that there aren’t the talented and untalented. There are people who have worked at bringing out certain skills and those who haven’t.
I wish I could say that things have changed, but I don’t seem much in the way of improvement. Arts are there in the wings, hanging out until their resurgence is needed not just wanted. I just hope that I’m around to see them return to their glory. I fear that the children in my daughter’s generation are academically better off maybe. What scares me more is that without the creative side of their personalities they will all just become little robots out in the real world.
* is a statement directly from the article 3 Awful Things That Happen When Children are Denied Daily Arts Instruction in Schools.