Let’s Hear It For the Arts!
by Susan Stephenson, www.thebookchook.com
What are the Arts, anyway? Generally “the Arts” refers to ways of creating, such as painting or literature, although some people talk about the art of tying knots, or making coffee. In an educational context in Australia, according to the Australian Curriculum, the Arts comprises five subjects: Dance, Drama, Media Arts, Music, and Visual Arts.
Why the Arts? The Arts generally are about creating. While participating in and learning from activities like drama, dance, painting, sculpture and music, children have the opportunity to increase their understanding of ideas, feelings and situations by observing and collaborating with others. They get to apply new ideas, solve problems, infer, analyse, generalise, design, modify, synthesise and evaluate. Employers tell us they want to employ school leavers who can think creatively and “outside the box” - I believe that’s more likely if students are encouraged to engage in a range of Arts activities.
But more importantly than employment prospects, I know in my heart that creating is a basic human need and drive. This Neil Gaiman quote says it best:
The one thing that you have that nobody else has is you. Your voice, your mind, your story, your vision. So write and draw and build and play and dance and live as only you can.
* We need the Arts as a way to express ourselves, and our uniqueness.
* We need the Arts as a way of creating something and sharing it with others.
* We need the Arts as a way to explore the world and the human condition.
* We need the Arts as a way to entertain ourselves and others.
* We need the Arts as a way to reach out to, and communicate with others, regardless of age, gender, creed…
* We need the Arts as a way to access other cultures and ways of thinking.
* We need the Arts as a way to promote tolerance and empathy. Just like literature allows us to walk a mile in another’s shoes, so too can we have Arts experiences, in groups or as an individual, that help us set aside our prejudices and biases.
* We need the Arts as a way to get in touch with our feelings and inner life.
* We need the Arts because they are not black and white, cut and dried, rigid. Rather, they are free-flowing, evolving, able to be re-interpreted.
Need more? The Arts have also been proved to help troubled kids, including quite young ones.
As parents, educators and human beings, we need to make sure politicians hear our voices about the importance of the Arts in education and in our communities. We need to lobby for funding for community arts programs, and for opportunities in the school system to give status to Arts-related subjects. Let’s hear it for the Arts!
You might also like to read Drama Activities to Add to Our Parent Toolkit at Scholastic.