Is it more important to give the right answer or to ask the right question?
Wait! Before you answer, please read on.
“The arts are essential parts of the human experience, they are not a frill. We recommend that all students study the arts to discover how human beings communicate not only with words, but through music, dance, and the visual arts." --Dr. Ernest Boyer, The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. (From “Learning Through the Arts” by Dee Dickinson, Johns Hopkins School of Education)
It’s undeniable: we are at an educational crossroads in our country. Faced with the dismal truth of our declining national grade average, we are clearly neglecting the needs of the children of this nation. Please, I am not suggesting that this crisis we face can be solved with a single cure-all, but I do strongly believe that, as a nation, we must summon the strength to put every available resource to work.
Since Creative Spark focuses on nurturing our innate creativity, there are a few things I hope you’ll consider in terms of how important your child’s art and music teacher are to their current academic success and to the future success of this nation.
Consider these facts:
The arts opens a pathway to creativity and innovation
This skill is powerful no matter what discipline a child later pursues. Business: How do you have the vision to go from a walkman to an ipod? Medicine: How do you connect controlling illness with the need for hygiene among medical professionals? Engineering: How do you form and realize the vision to design vehicles that are beautiful and fuel efficient? You guessed it: creativity and innovation. It’s not just for artists.
The arts encourages looking at the world from new perspectives
Every artistic discipline encourages young minds to see things in their own way, and then translate those visions into the language of their choice. Words, music, film, art, or dance.
Art = discovery, of self, of new processes
In order to express your inner vision to the world, you have to discover what that vision is. When young people learn how to do this, the rewards are exponential for society as a whole.
The act of creating is therapeutic for mind and spirit
Introspection and creative expression purges emotions that may be too difficult to approach and express in any other way. Art therapy is a proven and respected form of therapy for children who have undergone some type of psychological trauma.
The arts helps kids deal with and express abstract feelings
In Grand Bahama alone, the 2013 reported cases of child abuse was 32 percent higher than in 2012. Reported cases. 32 percent. In one year. Many abused children benefit from learning how to use paint or music or dance as a safe way to express their pain, frustration and hope.
Participation in the arts is often the first lesson in ‘if I can imagine it, I can make it happen’
Do our children believe they have the power to change their circumstances? We are pretty good at telling our kids what not do to, what choices not to make. What if we asked them more often “What do you want to do, be, or learn?” What if we asked “Who do you think you are?” not as an accusation, but as an invitation for discovery?
The arts boosts self esteem and confidence
PBS.org cites a Harris Poll that found studying the arts leads to “higher test scores in the classroom. Self-esteem increases when a child feels confident in the classroom. Skills learned from studying the arts including concentration and dedication, affects classroom values and test scores.” Research has proven that music lessons help to improve math scores.
The arts creates empathy and tolerance
According to The Florida Music Educators Association: “Sustained student involvement in theater arts … associates with a variety of development for youth: gains in reading proficiency, gains in self concept and motivation, and higher levels of empathy and tolerance for others.”
The arts teaches us how to find the right question. It gives us the tools to begin conversations. It shows us to respect the importance of our own world view and the value of the insight of others. Learning how to give and accept criticism in art class (music, dance, or the visual arts) teaches us how to walk the tightrope of creative self expression by balancing self confidence and humility.
I am not an educator. I am a parent, and a concerned citizen. I am not an expert on education, crime, or governance. But I have read and studied the work of people who are experts in those areas and firmly believe that when we raise a generation of CREATIVE THINKERS who understand that pain and beauty coexist, and are encouraged to identify and pursue their passion in creative ways, we elevate the nation.
People who focus on asking the right questions, often search for and discover the right answers.
People who focus on learning the right answers, are often more preoccupied with always being right and are less likely to dare to travel down new avenues of discovery for fear of failure.
So. What do you think? Is it more important to give the right answer or to ask the right question?
Please leave a comment - I’d love to hear your opinions and ideas.
But before you do that, I hope you thank your child’s art/music/dance teacher.