I attended the ScienceNow talk about art education last week and got a chance to listen to some interesting questions and answers.
Dr. Daniel J. Levitin talked about the importance of structured art education (that is currently missing on so many schools) – and that benefits of these programs (with engagement-by-doing) are seen with as little as 10 minutes a day. He talked about importance of playing music in building character, teaching turn taking and paying attention to what others are doing… and about a study which showed that people who read a lot of fiction had much stronger empathy than others.
For me, the most important question was – How can arts education help teach creativity and other important life lessons for a 21st century America?
When I was going to school we had to memorize a lot of useless information. Sure, it helped us to exercise our brains but I do not remember almost any of the dates and formulas I was memorizing 15 years ago… on the other hand, the creative work that I did – researched and presented, I remember very vividly. Which is not surprising – but it makes this point even more important.
Daniel Levitin said: what we need to teach our children now is (a) how to evaluate information to be sure it is accurate; (b) how to think logically; (c) how to think creatively – the most difficult problems facing the world such as global warming and peacekeeping, require creative solutions.
My question is – how can we nurture creativity – if kids do not really see it around them? There are many benefits of teaching art in schools… and they seem to be getting more and more important in the Internet age. We should strive for a balance between creativity and logical thinking… after all, even Einstein said: “Logic will get you from A to B. Imagination will take you everywhere.” Isn’t THAT something we should want for us and our kids?