Can you imagine a world without The Arts?

Salvador Dalí [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

How much time do you think should be devoted to the creative arts in school? How much time do you think is spent on creative arts in school? Is it a match?

The arts include such things as:

  • Visual Arts
  • Drama
  • Music
  • Dance

Educational policies promote The Arts for their potential to develop creativity and critical thinking. For example, the rationale for The Arts in the Australian Curriculum states that

“The arts have the capacity to engage, inspire and enrich all students, exciting the imagination and encouraging them to reach their creative and expressive potential.”

Creativity and critical thinking are mentioned first in the aims.

How do The Arts contribute to our world?

If nothing else, they add beauty to uplift and inspire. In many ways, they are time capsules, carrying stories from the past through our present and into the future. While I am neither artist nor art connoisseur, I see the value in each form and the importance of sharing them with younger generations.  I also consider it important for young children to have freedom to explore each of the arts as a medium of self-expression.

I have shared some thoughts about each of the arts in previous posts, including

Let’s Dance!

image courtesy of openclipart.org

I’ve got the music in me!

Imagine that!

and introduced you to some amazing illustrators including Jeannie Baker, Kim Michelle Toft, Narelle Oliver, Helene Magisson. Today I have received two beautiful picture books illustrated by the very talented Muza Ulasowski who I’ll be interviewing later this year.

At the Carrot Ranch this week Charli Mills challenges us to consider what a nation may be like if art was gone. The picture she creates of a possible “post-truth era dystopian” future is not pretty. I’m not into dystopian futures where “everything is unpleasant or bad”. Tell me, we’re not there yet, are we?

Although The Arts get a good rap in the Australian Curriculum, and other curricula too I’m sure, many teachers grumble that time for creativity and the arts is pushed out as schools focus on the formal tests that pit school against school, state against state, and country against country.

Hopefully that situation is not as dire in early childhood situations. Fortunately, young children are constantly exposed to some aspects of the visual arts through beautifully illustrated picture books. Hopefully they also enjoy copious amounts of music, song, and movement each day, and lots of time for imaginative play. How much more than that, and how much time for self-expression, may vary from school to school and teacher to teacher.

Involvement in art programs can also be therapeutic, giving children opportunities for quiet, almost meditative times, in which they can turn off their brains for a little while, relax, and express themselves.

For Marnie, a character I have been developing through responses to Charli’s flash fiction prompts, art is more than just a release. Art classes with her favourite teacher Miss R., who sees and encourages the possibilities and potential that lie within, offer her welcome respites from the harshness of her reality.

I introduced this notion in a flash piece Safety, and extended the idea in a longer piece The story behind brown paint.

In this response to Charli’s prompt to In 99 words (no more, no less) go down the rabbit hole to a place where art is not allowed. It could be a small story or a dystopian vision. Is there a power struggle over art? Would the general public miss it? Is the end of art a natural evolution? I have considered what it might be like for Marnie should her should she be robbed of her treasured art class. I hope you enjoy it.

No Art

She’d survived! In just minutes, art class with Miss R. Without Art today, she’d be somewhere else; anywhere. Or nowhere. Breathing deeply, imagining sunshine and calm waters, as Miss R. taught, helped quell the warmth rising from her feet, threatening to explode her heart and head. Somehow she’d avoided Brucie and his bully mates, escaping their lunchtime taunts. Now Art: sanctuary. Suddenly, tears obliterated hope as she read: “No Art today. Classes cancelled.” Where was that white rabbit with a hole down which she could disappear?

Later, during class, Miss R. asked, “Has anyone seen Marnie?” Brucie just smirked.

Thank you for reading. I appreciate your feedback. Please share your thoughts.

37 thoughts on “Can you imagine a world without The Arts?

  1. julespaige

    In the 1960’s there was a push for being creative. But I think it slowly diminished as the years progressed. Home Economics where even boys learned how to sew and cook was reduced or has completely vanished in most schools. I also just read where most visiting European Students thought American education was lacking in discipline and was ‘easy’ compared to their home countries. There has got to be a middle ground. Compassion should be allowed and taught.

    I remember that I just had gotten out of education, when I heard of the new strict laws that didn’t allow for hugging a distress child for fear of any ‘touching’ to be considered inappropriate. That was in the early 1980’s. Most preschools require children be ‘potty trained’ because they will not change diapers anymore. Why is there so much fear in wanting to share kindness.

    I can only hope that Marnie has found out that she was tricked. That’s what I took out of your flash… We’ve gone overboard in giving bullies more freedom than they should be allowed.

    Like

    Reply
  2. Pingback: Without Art « Carrot Ranch Communications

  3. Charli Mills

    I think Marnie’s story could be an argument for the need to have art. Children can’t always express the bullying and abuse they suffer because it seems normal to their lives. Yet, art can be an outlet of expression as, you say, for critical thinking as well as creativity. Oh, what a cruel joke to play on poor Marnie. I hope Mrs. R realizes what has happened.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
    1. Norah Post author

      Yes, I think that’s what art will be for Marnie. Perhaps Miss R. will encourage her the way your writing teacher encouraged you. Hopefully Miss R will find out. I wonder what will happen to Brucie then.

      Liked by 1 person

      Reply
  4. Sarah Brentyn

    Great post. We’ve talked over this but I agree standardized testing (whether one agrees with it or not) takes time/energy/money away from the arts. Visual and performing arts are crucial to creativity which, in turn, in crucial for development. Blah, blah, I could go on. But it’s that in an imaginative nutshell brown swirled on a piece of paper. A bear? A cave? A chocolate bar? 😉 Love the connection with Marnie the teacher AND you seem to have.

    Liked by 2 people

    Reply
    1. Norah Post author

      Thanks Sarah. Yes, I knew we’d agree. Creativity is vitally important. We especially need it now. We need someone to find a way to help us dig ourselves out of this hole we seem to have fallen in. There’s not much light and it’s difficult to see which way’s up at the moment.

      Liked by 1 person

      Reply
    1. Norah Post author

      Yes, it is sad, isn’t it? Sad for the children. Sad for the teachers. And sad for the world. Where is there joy, hope and optimism if not in expressive arts? Mind you, I’m not sure how much times have changed. I don’t remember doing art at school.

      Liked by 1 person

      Reply
      1. Patricia Tilton

        I had art in K-12. In high school, I realized I wasn’t talented. But, pursued my music through piano, choirs, music theory. Don’t teach that now. And, remember taking home ec in junior high learning sewing and cooking. No longer exists.

        Liked by 1 person

        Reply
        1. Norah Post author

          I’m not sure about talent. I would say I don’t have any either, but really I’m not so sure, or if it matters. Home ec was a good thing, but I never thought of it as art. I guess it can be too. 🙂

          Liked by 1 person

          Reply
  5. dgkaye

    Important post Norah. What would we all be without the opportunity for creative expression. Sadly, too many governments are making cutbacks on such activities in schools. It’s beyond me how they don’t comprehend the importance of these programs. Almost dystopian. 😦

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
  6. magicnomade

    Great article! Absolutely right Norah and if we don’t encourage children to understand Art, (and then being able to create) we loose the opportunity to have great creators in our world and the possibility to appreciate the beauty and the value of a chef d’oeuvre.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
    1. Norah Post author

      Thank you, Helene. Your work offers so much to inspire creativity in others. Appreciating the beauty of your work is a great place to start. Thank you for sharing your artistic wisdom.

      Like

      Reply
  7. thecontentedcrafter

    Isn’t this an interesting subject Norah! My teaching career was, as you know in Waldorf Education, which carries an educational philosophy that combines the arts and sciences – that might be expressed in general terms as giving equal time to all things academic and artistic. (It has been thoroughly researched and documented in that education for almost 100 years now how important both are to the developing child and to then on throughout our lives. People have done academic doctorates on the subject for years, yet it is still mostly ignored, unknown or defamed by governmental educational bodies.}

    ‘Art’ is any undertaking that encourages an enrichment on the emotional/soul level – that is the bit that modern education find hard to document because it doesn’t have easily measurable outcomes, but can be equally as easily seen (if you have the eyes to see) in behaviour, self-confidence, social skills, ability to see the big picture, ability to express emotions, ability to process emotions. Without art we become nothing more than intellectual heads walking about atop dis-compassionate bodies, inventing bombs capable of wiping out human populations but leaving the cities intact, just because we can and just because we value stuff more than human beings.

    Let’s keep singing and dancing and creating and writing and playing and looking with wonder for as long as we can! xoxo

    Liked by 2 people

    Reply
    1. Norah Post author

      Thanks for sharing your personal wisdom, Pauline, and the wisdom of Waldorf Education. We definitely need both science and art. And isn’t it wonderful when “wonder” is the intersection. Yes, let’s sing and dance, write and create – playfully and with fun. I’m dancing to your tune too, Pauline. 🙂

      Like

      Reply
  8. Steven

    What a ratbag.

    You asked two questions at the very start of your post, neither of which I am really sure about. However it is the first one that I am most uncertain about. How much time should be devoted to creative arts. I feel the question needs to be generalised. I think it is actually a rather complex question and would be an interesting research topic, to see the proportion of time spent on the various topics ranging from Kindergarten through to Year 12 and State to State. How does it change through the years and why? Is there some sort of ideal proportion for each year and how does that ideal compare to the real-world situation. I think if it hasn’t been done already, there is a post-graduate opportunity in there for someone.

    I am not much of an artist. I tend to define something as being artistic if I couldn’t reasonably create it myself (which I suppose some artists may be offended by, but that is my lay-persons view). I would have no chance creating a Mona Lisa and so consider that artistic. Something like Blue Poles, I could conceivably create myself – I do not find that sort of work artistic (even if there is some hidden background meaning). I could possibly be swayed by something that it borderline if it does have some meaning (and it is explained to me). I guess to me, what generally counts is a combination of the effort involved and the quality of that effort.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
    1. Norah Post author

      Thanks for your lovely comment, Steven, thoughtful as usual. Many curricula have suggested time allocations for subjects. Quite often there is not enough time in the week to fulfill the minimum allocations. Art quite often gets pushed out, and is only available as an elective in higher grades, I think. I don’t remember doing much art in school.
      I appreciate your personal definition of art. I think we probably all need that. With my lack of understanding of art, I judge it by what I like. Your comment reminded me of the saying about modern art, “I could have done that” and the response, “Yeah but you didn’t”. It “inspired” something I say about my readilearn resources: Resources you would have made yourself, if you only had time. 🙂

      Like

      Reply
  9. Annecdotist

    I do remember Marnie’s art from previous flashes and it’s great that you’ve developed it further in this one. Dreadful for her to be deprived of the one bit of the day that makes school bearable.

    Liked by 3 people

    Reply
        1. Norah Post author

          Thank you. 🙂 I do feel like she’s a real person. She is made up of so many I know, or know of. It’s just the details of her life that are sketchy. That’s possibly because there’s a lot she still doesn’t want to share.

          Liked by 1 person

          Reply
  10. ksbeth

    i have a great appreciation for the arts as an important part of any education. the role they play in our lives is invaluable. i teach full day 3-5 year olds and would never have a day in class without them.

    Liked by 2 people

    Reply
  11. TanGental

    Nasty trick for Marnie. Let’s hope she’s ok. This exposes nicely how such a shock can shake foundations. As a child I fell in love with Tintin books – you may have picked that up already – and a major part was the beautiful drawings. It’s the characters you remember, I can still visualise so many and without loving that art they wouldn’t have taken hold. Through them I eased my way into reading. So important we allow all aspects of art to pull us along.

    Liked by 2 people

    Reply
    1. Norah Post author

      It was a nasty trick on Marnie. I’m pleased that was obvious. Thanks for noticing. 🙂
      Thanks also for sharing your Tintin experiences. I was aware of that love. It is a good thing that there are many paths into reading, and into art appreciation. If not for Tintin, I wonder where your story telling would be now.

      Liked by 1 person

      Reply

I appreciate your feedback. Please share your thoughts.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s