In a public school climate based on high stakes testing, after school programs provide a much needed space for students to explore interests that can’t be measured by a standardized test.
I am a proud product of public schools…I studied Spanish, art, music, band, newspaper and dance. I had the opportunity to explore skills that socially, have made me a more well-rounded and culturally competent individual. I excelled at the arts…I am not sure if it impacted my standardized test scores….but in the game of life it has made me an A+ student.
I am concerned that the arts and creativity are being drained from education. At the PASE conference one of the featured speakers, Sheldon Gilbert, talked about working in technology and how his and many firms look for multi-lingual employees or those who play an instrument because they make for better programmers because of their ability to problem solve. Unfortunately, steep budget cuts in our public schools and after school programs are producing kids who can’t do either of these. This is especially true for students in underserved areas, where parents don't have the resources or finances to supplement the arts and extracurricular activities that children in more affluent homes participate.
I think of the extraordinary accomplishments that have recently been made in technology by relatively young people….think Zukerberg and Facebook, think Instagram Founders and photos. These ideas take creativity. Steve Jobs has famously attributed the beautiful typography of the first Mac to a calligraphy class that he took. A majority of children from underserved homes will not have the opportunity to receive this creative inspiration.
I have to ask what steps are we taking as a country, education system, and community to ensure that we are preparing the next generation of creative thinkers who will look for solutions not only locally but also globally---making this a better and more beautiful world for all.