Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Why is Art Class Expendable?

Our older dd, who loves art, was fortunate to go through 6th grade in an elementary school, where she had art class every week. When we started applying to middle schools for her, I was dismayed to discover that art would be offered for only one 6-week segment in the year.

So far, at her new school, she hasn't had one art class. This is in stark contrast to phys. ed., which she has had once a week every week, or even more when she was on the soccer team.

Why is this? I think it's because of the competition to get into elite colleges. People hoping to send their kid to a competitive college are routinely told to get the kid into sports -- crew or fencing is good for girls, for instance. You can go to Yale if you're an excellent fencer, but your drawing skills can only take you to art school.

Similarly, playing a musical instrument can give a kid an edge. An admissions director who's looking at hundreds of straight-A, high-SAT applications is thrilled to know that the orchestra is looking for bassoonists; it provides a reason to take the bassoon player over the other high achievers.

Not coincidentally, schools (public and private) in wealthy districts boast terrific athletic facilities, and often very strong music programs, but not much attention is paid to visual art.

What curricular decisions would schools make if they weren't constantly looking forward to the almighty college application?

1 comment:

  1. I believe parents/society does not value art class like they use to...." how's that going to get little Billy and Jane a job? "

    What goes unsaid is that much of what is taught at school isn't helping Billy and Jane in that department either.