Monday, April 7, 2008

Obama on Arts Education

Obama comments on arts education and NCLB on April 2 in Wallingford, PA.

I am tired of the rationale that "arts help kids do well in other subjects." That may be true, but why do the arts have to be secondary (even when we say they're not)? Arts make students do better in math, arts help students do better on tests... Why can't we value the arts on their own? You don't hear people saying that we teach math because students who take math do better at reading.

Obama redeems himself here when he says the "Arts Education teaches people to see each other through each other's eyes. It teaches us to respect and understand people who are not like us." Yes - with their storytelling capabilities, the arts -- visual, music, drama, dance -- have the potential to construct narratives to better understand ourselves and others.

Helen Nicholson, in Applied Drama, speaks about drama's power to tell alternative stories that push us to question the stories that are dominant in our society. Whose stories are we familiar with? Whose have been left out? Storytelling and narrative allow us to construct our identity in relationship to others and break down or "unfix" reality. Unfixing reality so that we are able to question and transform it. That being said, I think the arts have the potential to be a perfectly meaningful subject area in and of themselves...

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