Arts Education 50 Years Later

Picture a third grade classroom….maps on the walls…upper & lower case alphabet above the chalk board… desks lined up in 5 rows. The year is 1956. The teacher stands in the front of the classroom holding a picture of Grant Wood’s “Fall Plowing”. The children sitting quietly at their desks are concentrating on coloring between the lines on their own versions of the painting. This exercise was called Art Appreciation, and I believe it was meant to expose us to American artists at that time, and a variety of artists throughout our grade school experience. I remember loving that class. Although I wasn’t a very good artist, it was a great diversion from the rote memory stuff that was also a necessary part of our education. That was my exposure to the creative process in grade school, and it was just fine…..for the 50’s.

Fast forward to the 21st Century where computers and the internet are (hopefully) an integral part of the classroom….not to mention the constantly advancing technology available to youth today. Drawing between the lines isn’t enough anymore. Students need to be able to think in a different way creatively in order to keep up. Arts education should not be considered an extra enrichment program, but an essential element in the classroom to stimulate the creative process. Our grandchildren will face a whole new set of problems to solve, and they are going to have to think in a different way in this rapidly changing society. The tools have changed, and arts education is one of the best.

Performing Arts Workshop has been a leader in advocating for arts education, and you need look no further than the Workshop staff to see the commitment and passion for what they do…outstanding examples of putting the creative process to work.

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