In a guest education column from the Post earlier this week, Daniel Willingham, billed as a cognitive scientist at UVa, makes a good, practical case for the arts being an essential part of K12 education.
He makes many excellent points but there are two that resonate the loudest.
Kagan argues that the arts offer a unique means of communication, using representations in the mind other than words, which are at the core of most school subjects.
…participation in the arts allows children to see the importance of creating beauty, of creating an object that others may enjoy. When a child gets an A on a math test, the immediate benefit is to the child alone. But when the child creates a drawing, she makes something for the pleasure of others as well.
Our traditional system of schooling has always been largely closed, with students only taught to communicate with those in the same room, and largely not allowed to express themselves beyond those walls.
And, pushed by the holy grail of our current standardized testing mania, the curriculum they study has been narrowed to the points that anything but reading and math is considered a frill.
Instead we should be expanding our concept of what it means to be an educated person to include the ability to communicate using many different tools through multiple channels.