C’mon, Can’t We All Work Together?

21st Century Learning! 21st Century Skills! Business leaders, educators, and parents are calling for major change in our current education system. The current model – reading, writing, and arithmetic – is the one that is drilled, tested, and evaluated. But this curriculum doesn’t account for creativity or critical thinking – skills that many acknowledge will be crucial to success in the new economy.

We’re used to advocating for the arts when the money gets cut. But, let’s break out of this silo. 21st century skills aren’t exclusively arts-based. And the arts aren’t the only neglected subject in post-No Child Left Behind schools. Science. The humanities. We should be pooling our collective voices to push for systemic change in schools. In Massachusetts, legislators are working on a Creative Challenge Index. Schools in Massachusetts will be reviewed and judged on how well they are teaching their students creativity and innovation through science, the arts and humanities. Other states are talking about similar initiatives.  These efforts mark a sea change in arts education advocacy.

We should still keep fighting for line items of arts money at the state and local level. As one colleague reminded me, the money is where the programs are. Money indicates value for a particular program or subject area. But the ground is shifting. The arts aren’t merely a slice of the pie that we’re trying push back in to schools and school budgets. They’re a vehicle for education reform. The arts are the basis for a new kind of learning that will be necessary in an increasingly innovative, entrepreneurial, and competitive marketplace. We need creative, fresh, original thinkers. The arts, along with the sciences and humanities, can cultivate the next generation of creative voices.

What is your school or your child’s school doing to cultivate creativity and innovation? What role does your child’s afterschool program play in their creative education? How can we bring these two worlds together to create a comprehensive, sequential, and deep system for creative education?

Read full blog post at Americans for the Arts’ Arts Education Blog.

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