For more than a century, the arts have served as creative innovator to the world of education related to U.S. industry and career development. The drastic move of the economy from an industrialized nation to that of a technological workforce has made interlocutors, interested educational restructuring to benefit future productive citizens, re-evaluate the values present in our quickly changing world.
Leading educators have penned and voiced their concern for more than two decades regarding the inadequate education that a newly materialized, No Child Left Behind strategy forces upon our students, to memorize and regurgitate uninteresting information, to follow an instructor’s directions and not ask questions. What has been lacking through the initiation of such programs, that of creative thought, has led to a further plummet in the achievement gap, a loss of interest from America’s most able-bodied and potential workforce, our children.
“If the child is prevented from enjoying these experiences…the special sensitivity which draws them to them will vanish, with disturbing effects,” (Crain, 1949) once stated psychologist Maria Montessori. And while she was, at the time, denoting children of elementary age, this also rings true for individuals of all ages who have not been allowed to explore their guttural interests, to express and find their inner voice, to ultimately lead them to become more productive, thoughtful, well-rounded citizens.
While the emphasis on drawing was once thought to be “needed for intellectual, moral, and economic reasons…that seeing correctly required trained powers of perception and visual discrimination”, the same holds true in today’s world of mass communication and video games. Whereas schools used to invigorate and encourage “student self interest and self-confidence” (Stankiewicz 10,12), the technology market outside of the classroom has now engaged them, teaching faster than an educator can keep up and that is where a vested interest must take place between the school setting and the economy.
A myriad of educational institutions and business professionals have recently joined the conversation, creating partnerships with local high schools to provide internship and tech prep opportunities for those interested in pursuing college majors/careers in the arts (The FIT Tech Prep Program, established in 1991), provided on-the-job training with working art professionals (Cape Cod, Martha's Vineyard & Nantucket School-to-Careers Art Internship Program), created opportunities for self-interested, tech-savvy students to engage in the instructional content (Academic Earth video courses) lending their voice to the discussion of “which skills are lacking and what can be done to address this change.” (Help Wanted: Workforce Development & The New Economy)
What was once a truth in favor of an arts education over one hundred years ago, can still serve as “a means to counteract the loss of human dignity” (Stankiewicz, 46-48) that prevails in the present day society of school-aged children. The only obstacle remains in gaining enough interlocutors, from the business sector and concerned individuals alike, to voice their stance and participate in the reformation process of our educational system. The process has begun, but how long will it be before it takes complete hold?