tt36b.jpgI wanted to take a different approach to this week's blog post. So often, I write about policy or current events but I wanted to share with you a piece of poetry that I wrote some time ago. But first, I wanted to talk to you about why arts education is so critically important. Education in the arts, in my opinion, is essential to the development of each human being. Those who have studied the mechanics of education throughout history have emphasized the importance of the arts education in the process. Study of the arts is integral to our society. They are a part of the cultural heritage of every citizen of our country, and make us more complete as people. Whether your particular flavor is theater, poetry, dance, visual art or music, I believe the key to being a well-rounded human being is to be exposed to and try new things.

Numerous research studies exist to show the overwhelmingly support that the study and engagement in the fine arts are a key component in improving learning outcomes in all subject areas. Evidence of its effectiveness in reducing student dropout rates, raising student attendance, developing better team players, fostering a love for learning, improving greater student dignity, enhancing student creativity, and producing a more prepared citizen for the workplace of tomorrow can be found in research  from school campuses, to the highest levels of corporate America.

One such example of this research was found in the piece, “Champions of Change: The Impact of the Arts on Learning” (1999). Here is what was found:

  1. The arts reach students not normally reached, in ways and methods not normally used. 
  2. It changes the learning environment to one of discovery. 
  3. Students connect with each other better. 
  4. The arts provide challenges to students of all levels. 
  5. Students learn to become sustained, self-directed learners. 
  6. The study of the fine arts positively impacts the learning of students of lower socioeconomic status as much or more than those of a higher socioeconomic status.  (Twenty-one percent of students of low socioeconomic status who had studied music scored higher in math versus just eleven percent of those who had not. By the senior year, these figures grew to 33 percent and 16 percent, respectively, suggesting a cumulative value to music education.)

Our educational system, much like the world around it, is constantly evolving. Learning is not limited to just what you know, but is dependent upon how to find information and how to use that information quickly, creatively, and cooperatively.  Today’s students are overwhelmed with data, but should be given more meaningful learning opportunities than striving to just pass a test.

The “real world” beyond the classroom demands for students (future employees) to understand how to be problem solvers, make plausible and well-reasoned arguments, build collaborative teams and coalitions, and how to incorporate the concept of fairness into the everyday decisions. The arts provide all of these.  An effective education in the fine arts can help students to more clearly see what they look at, hear what they listen to, and feel what they touch. Exposure to the fine arts can help students to stretch their minds beyond the limits of the printed text or the rules of what is provable. The arts free our minds from rigid certainty and allow us to be as creative and explorative as we can be.

Now back to my poem. This is an old piece of prose done in the spoken word format. I hope you like it. Here goes...

She Seduced Me

She seduced me....I was too young to recognize her game...but she had me...with the sweet sound of her voice….the feel of her touch....and that smile….Oh, that smile.

I chased her above all others...ruining friendships and relationships...all for the allure of her gaze...Only thing that mattered was her....chasing and chasing....trying anything and everything to get closer...only to see her just elude my grasp….again.

I remember standing at the podium at my life's biggest moment when she said she would be there….all I saw were faces looking back....empty faces….so many empty faces….but none were hers....she had left me for another….I cursed her that night and swore no more chasing her....time to live for me and not for her...no...I was done chasing....her....but alas....she seduced me....again....she had me once again wrapped around her finger....Damn.

I asked her about the "others"....all the.... "others"....and she smiled....that sweet, wicked smile…. that got me the first time I met her....She said "I am yours now"....but I know her gaze can be fleeting...so....SUCCESS....I will always chase you till my heart stops beating.

That’s my take. What’s yours?

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