Arts Education: Fluff or Fuel?

With No Child Left Behind declaring the Arts as a core curriculum, it is increasingly important to recognize and understand the influence of the arts in the education system. Businesses are calling for elevated education standards that include a strong education in the creative arts. According to the National Center for Education & the Economy’s Tough Times Tough Choices, our jobs of the future will depend not only on new and better technologies, but on strong creative leadership. As the NCEE says “Leadership does not depend on technology alone. It depends on a deep vein of creativity that is constantly renewing itself, and on a myriad of people who can imagine how people can use things that have never been available before, create ingenious marketing and sales campaigns, write books, build furniture, make movies, and imagine new kinds of software that will capture people’s imagination and become indispensable to millions.”

America is in a technological transition shifting from a manufacturing to a service driven economy. As the globalization of the world’s economy evolves, many middle class jobs are being automated or outsourced to the lowest bidder, and many high skilled jobs are going overseas as we “compete with countries that can offer large numbers of highly educated workers willing to work for low wages”. To maintain the United States standard of living we must be on the cutting edge of new technologies and innovative business solutions.

Tomorrow’s workers will require a rich blend of highly developed analytical skills and creative ingenuity. However, the current educational system continues to prepare students for the manufacturing jobs of yesterday answering political demands for accountability based on high-stakes tests with unprecedented standardized testing. Simultaneously state standards in the arts have been adopted in 47 states, usually without additional funding, as if mandating tests and standards will provide the analytical and creative education needed to ensure success in the new global economy. The connection between the process of arts education and standardized testing, offered by the artistic process, is lacking.

What to do? Stay tuned!

About Patricia Strickland

Patricia Strickland currently heads the Theater Department at a private high school in Ventura, California. Patti has a passion for empowering youth, and she is committed to the idea that teaching children to think creatively and globally is a critical element needed in order to foster the skills that will maintain economic competitiveness in tomorrow’s marketplace. She is currently exploring methods to introduce more emotional and artistic literacy into the educational system, working enthusiastically with fellow educators to create cross-curricular projects. Patti is an accomplished actress and director, is a graduate of the American Academy of Dramatic Arts, and holds a BS in Interdisciplinary Studies from NYIT and a Master of Arts in Communication and Leadership from Gonzaga University.

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