life of art
10/10/2012 4:09:15 PM
As one who early on found art-making as my language in lieu of math etc. and has lived for up to 80 years in that mode, I often wonder about the "choice". (Of course, I had none.)
Why the Arts Matter(3)
7/27/2011 7:11:19 PM
To answer Chris Johnson: "Rationality and The Arts can tell us how to build a children's hospital, and it can tell us how to build a gas-chamber; but they are incapable of telling us which one to build."
Just remember that Adolf Hitler applied to art school twice and failed to get in. What if he had been accepted? We might have averted WWII.
Why the Arts Matter(2)
9/12/2010 3:01:03 PM
I have been teaching music and drama at the high school level for more than thirty-two years now. I have lived through the countless years of justifying my existence by aligning with other subjects and then spent years asking why the teaching schedule never allowed for such cooperation. However, I also live in a unique situation.
Throughout all past and present job elimination scares (I acually was let go my second year and then re-hired in August of that same year), my city never eliminated the Arts in their entirety. Many other communities around us are just now trying to re-insert the Arts into their curriculum, and with much difficulty. However, in my poor urban community, someone always saw the necessity for Art and Music (and eventually Theatre) in their children's lives.
I am certain that no one ever thought about it as deeply as Jerome Kagan has opined, however. Nevertheless, we have survived and now when I point to the necessities of the Arts in the K-12 curriculum, they are still listening. They appreciate their children's successes, attend their performances and applaud their talents.
I also believe that Kagan has overstated some of his 'evidence' of the education of the whole child. In my community, he would have found the opinion that he tries too hard to make his point and that he tries to make the arts a life or death situation. He also equates the arts with the studenet who can do nothing else ("a classroom task") I read it all, but he really lost me with that one statement. The Arts should be important in schools, but he could have written much less and still have been successful in making his case.
Why The Arts Matter
10/23/2009 9:51:54 AM
I too was saved by the arts at a critical time in my childhood when my life came undone through the death of a parent and the results of the cascade of unfortunate choices by other family members. A neighbor who was a curator in an art museum scooped me up and found me art and drama scholarships. I was never destined to become a Rembrandt but I survived as a person who realized the value of investing in others. I will never forget the power and self esteem the art restored and the kindness of the people who made a way and found a place in their hearts for me.
I recently attended a Brain Art exhibit in NYC sponsored by http://brainrevolution.org/ This org is making a way for every child to have tools to develop their minds. I also celebrate the Dana foundation and the strides they have made in joining art and science. Chris Johnson said, "Rationality and The Arts can tell us how to build a children's hospital, and it can tell us how to build a gas-chamber; but they are incapable of telling us which one to build." This is of course a thought but perhaps the arts contribute to the emotional and cognitive space required to consolidate from the inside out and make the choices that bestow dignity and empathy. "Society is a mirror of the human brain-Evian Gordon"
9/3/2009 9:35:24 AM
As an elememtary school teacher I must say there is no need for a study into the benefits, practical or otherwise, of promoting artistic expression in children. I have seen the proof day after day in my classroom for the past 11 years. The challenge will be for the educators and parents to accept, I say as fact, that soulful artistic expression is more important to the healthy development of a child than an "A". Greg Macfarlane, Grade 3 teacher, Torono, Canada.
Arts in school
8/4/2009 9:48:41 AM
Thank you for underscoring the benefits of the arts in school. I teach high school art, drawing, painting and AP art history and see many young people who need the boost in self-esteem and self-expression that only art can provide. What I'm alarmed at seeing is the shrinking of imaginations. More and more students find it hard to visualize ideas on their own from sythesizing complex information. They expect "the answer" to be preconceived and concrete. Your information about the connections between art, learning and the brain processes is very interesting. I hope our policy makers and society begin to understand these benefits. Cassie Tucker, Wakulla High School, Florida
Response to Kagan's talk at Visionary Art Museum
Anne Parran Sledge
7/19/2009 10:56:45 AM
A riveting speech,so densely enriched with examples and references and so true. Having worked with individuals across the spectrum of socio-economic and cognitive ability, I have witnessed their transformations when the processes inherent in the arts, have engaged their minds in profoundly new ways. With each brain being as uniquely different as our fingerprints,the validity of "different strokes for different folks" earns respect. Hearing it come from someone as esteemed as Kagan is refreshing and affirming.
Art Saves Lives
N Z Zazhinne
5/24/2009 6:03:52 PM
It saved MINE. Back in '98--when MD's were all saying "permanently brain-damaged, permanently blind, permanently disabled."
5.5 years blind--a fight to come back strong--WELL today--and wrote about it in Zeeva: the ART of Wellness the True Story of How Z Got Well Again and You Can Too! and covering the ART of Wellness on www.zeeva.net
Re: Arts Education
5/17/2009 1:14:52 PM
In response to the first response by C. Hallam: The problem with elevatating the Arts to preeminence is that it so often handicaps minds to resist moral absolutes, and in the extreme, renders them incapable of reifying evil. Artistic brilliance becomes conflated with wisdom and personal perspective eclipses notions of self-evident truth. This in turn facilitates lack of moral clarity.
After all, how does one come to the view that the creation of gas-chambers is a "moral dilemma". At issue is that it should not be a dilemma at all - what exactly are its merits over a childrens hospital? Moreover, the choice of whether to build the chambers was anything but "really irrelevant" to those confronted with them. Lack of moral clarity leads to equating the 'values and ideals' that led to the Holocaust, Progroms, and the Gulag Archipeligo with mere "flaws" that arise in application. Imagination indeed, 20 million state-sponsored murders in a 50 year period is, among other things, a flaw.
5/16/2009 1:15:25 PM
In reponse to the previous comment re: Dr.Kagan's argument. If you try to rationalize the importance of the arts you will miss the value completely. The arts allow individuals to explore and delve into all facets of the human condition in a way no other area does, and that is "reason" enough. To even stop and think and explore possible moral dilemmas in the act of creativity such as the one you illustrate is a step forward from never exploring anything innovative at all. The choice is really irrelevant to the value it is the process.
As a side note: there is inherent value and idealism in the theory of communism (equality for all members of a society - imagine that...), nationalism, and socialism as with capitalism. The flaws arise in conflict of human application to these.
Rationality & Art: Necessary but Insufficient
5/15/2009 3:25:19 PM
To be sure, Dr. Kagan is brilliant in his own right. However, it is a glaring ommission to suggest that adding instruction in The Arts is key to preservation of civil society. If only we were as concerned with the lack of basic instruction in morality and wisdom as we are with The Arts.
Dr. Kagan states, "It is not possible to live by rationality alone." True enough, but adding creativity and artistic expression is a an incomplete resolution. I would offer that we can't live by rationality and art alone. 19th century Western Europe is a case-in-point. At the time the region was the pinnacle of human progress and sophistication in the academy, culture, science, and the Arts. This environment produced renowned mathematicians, composers, scientists, philosophers, and musicians, artists, and architects. It also produced facism, communism, and the predicates for nationalism and socialism, two of the most deadly products man has ever conceived.
Rationality and The Arts can tell us how to build a children's hospital, and it can tell us how to build a gas-chamber; but they are incapable of telling us which one to build.