Being Educated

Every day, in every school, all common areas, and classrooms should pulsate with the sound of music to begin the teaching and learning enterprise. The improvisation of Monk, the notations of Beethoven and Bernstein, and the vocals of Wonder should greet the eardrums of all who enter the halls of learning. Similarly, every wall should assault the vision with images of Bearden, Rembrandt, Garcia, Picasso, and Yosihda.

It should be because the demise of art and music in favor of content that can be measured defiles what it means to be an educated person. If there is no teaching of the arts or no time in the schedule, there should be a planned assault on the senses. A piccolo emulating a bird or the twinkle of ebonies and ivories or the melodic lyric of “Isn’t She Lovely” will change the way children and adults embrace the academic lessons of the day. And, the abstractions of Miro, the montages of Bearden, the mystery of Mona Lisa’s smile, and the use of color by Gauguin will constantly stimulate the imagination of the learning community.

Surely, art and education are inseparable but for the mercantile impulses that dominate the discourse about the purpose of teaching and learning. Long ago judgments were made about the utility of art and music for the unwashed masses and they persist. The patrician among us argue that teaching art and music when students struggle with learning to read is a waste of time and money.

What the community needs are workers that can read an instructional manual and follow its directions with fidelity. Bereft of the spirit and values embedded in the arts, the universality of beauty gets defined by the few instead of the beholder. If justification for art is required, inspect the interplay between art, science, mathematics, religion, and philosophy. There are no shortages of the arts in human experience except in contemporary schools and classrooms. By the way, some daily dance would shake off some of the obesity that overwhelms hospitals and diminishes workplace productivity.

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