As one of a continuing series of looks at the insanity of what we do versus what we think, consider these two headlines from the past week in education news:
I clicked on this article via an ASCD newsletter on Monday, heartened by the solid evidence cited. It seems like several times a week I look at or see summaries of articles such as: “Arts Education – A Necessity, not a Luxury | The White House,” “Combining Exercise with School Lessons Could Boost Brain Power,” “PhysEd and Recess Boost Scores,” and “Student Fitness Linked to Higher Test Scores.”
Yet, the very next day, a click brought me to this story:
In this distressing article we learn, among other facts from a US Department of Education report, that:
“Fewer public elementary schools are offering visual arts, dance and drama classes than a decade ago, a decline many attribute to budget cuts and an increased focus on math and reading. The percentage of elementary schools with a visual arts class declined from 87 to 83 percent. In drama, the drop was larger: From 20 percent to 4 percent in the 2009-10 school year.”
And at last report, dance was only at 7 percent to start with, so no need to wonder if there’s more of it. Music is hanging in there, more as a result of stubborn and entrenched music educators rather than a general acknowledgement that all children should study it as part of their study of all the arts.
At least one commentator has noticed the vast disconnect between what we know about good teaching and learning, and what we do about it as a matter of public policy. For her slant on the subject, check out this PDF of the Hechinger Ed blog post.
There is a massive movement afoot among today’s US citizenry to steadfastly ignore facts in front of our faces in favor of clinging to beliefs that have no basis. It is nowhere more obvious than in education.
Don’t let school boards and other politicians distort the truth so they can hang onto an obviously fractured status quo. Demand that education policy adapt to what we know is true about teaching and learning: that the arts are central to transforming public, equal-access education for all children.