I'm a relatively new online blogger, although the "blogettes" I've submitted do reflect my thoughts and conversations. I generally consider myself a "gentleman blogger," not writing about anything controversial. Or, at least I thought I wasn't being controversial. My blog education continues.
Most recently, after writing about the arts, grade schools and the importance of teachers coupled with writing about El Sistema (the program to provide children free music classes this summer in Corona, Queens), I not only received blog responses, but notes to my website and hard copy letters. Nothing was especially rude, but a spectrum of opinions regarding the subject of education, the arts, nurturing teachers and prioritizing what the arts can do and where they "fit" in the totality of education and "growing up."
At one end of the spectrum (and speaking as a devil's advocate), was one writer who was an applied physicist and veteran of university-level hard sciences. He spent many years being trained both in music, the arts and science. He had been graded, measured and ranked his entire life. He found "objective standards" were a way of life in business as well.
In his life's context, he wonders whether or not kids will gravitate to arts programs because they are not measurable, because there is no SAT score and no way to objectively measure what has been accomplished... a world where subjective judgments replace measurable objective standards. (I personally don't think kids are that astute or prescient.)He asks:
"Are the arts something kids are doing only as kids? What kind of a world can they expect to encounter? How realistic are their expectations? How many of them will make a meaningful contribution to our economy? To our society? Can you quantify the value of what they bring to our future and measure it against what taxpayer's monies are being spent on such programs? A scientific approach of cost vs. benefit...?"
This writer suggests that sports develop leadership qualities in a huge industry that employs millions of people and, therefore, this is "good for society as a whole."
He concludes that the first order of schools (particularly high schools) should be the development of basic skills so that our colleges do not have to serve as remedial schools or lower their standards. I also believe this valid as a first order. But what about nurturing social skills and humanizing them with creativity?
Athletic programs have been supported in school for a very long time... we shouldn't have to choose one over the other. How about giving the arts parity with sports and seeing what happens to grades, society, employment? It's cost effective... Come on, America, stop putting arts in second place, or worse - ignoring or eliminating them.
I also received a message from another part of our country indicating how fascinated the commenting blogger was with the underlying values that theatre offers young people and the cross-curricula advantages and educational potentials and how much of a sense of community and a "micro-society" is created for young boys and girls together working on a project (above and beyond singing, dancing and acting) and how it produces a subtle learning of history, increased reading skills, good citizenship, character-building and mutuality of respect for men and women - all of which are required for civilized society.
That writer characterized all of this as espousing "true Christian values."
I read these blogettes before responding or answering, I thought that one glory of America is the freedom to think differently, to have different points of view, to speak openly without the potential for negative ramifications from government oppression and how different points of view make for healthy dialogue and a healthy society.