Dr. Gereboff's Head Notes
Seeing the World with Artist’s Eyes
“All Children are artists, the problem is how to remain an artist once you grow up.” (Picasso)
If you’ve recently visited our school, you would see the explosion of the arts. Under Ginger Slonaker’s skilled teaching, colorful and inspiring artwork fills our bulletin boards. Children eagerly await each art class. Ginger engages children with stories, playfulness and careful unpacking of technique.
And if you happen to be on campus on Wednesday and Friday mornings, you would hear the animated music classes taught by Evie and, on Monday, by Meghan. You would hear the students practicing various songs and sequences using solfege – the method used to teach pitch and sight singing. You would also hear fourth graders playing ukuleles.
The arts are often the “afterthought” of education, and seen by so many in our society as a “nice” addition to the curricula. As so many schools and educators worked to keep the arts in schools during the recent recession, arguments supporting the arts focused on ideas like music training improves the ability to read, and visual arts enhance the ability to do mathematical calculations.
Some of these justifications may be correct. But they are concerning for two reasons. They suggest that the arts are only valuable for a very particular way of being “smart” reducing all education to reading and mathematics. Also disturbing is the reliance on a “utilitarian” value.
Historically, American education has privileged the utilitarian function over other purposes. But there are important benefits of an education that also makes time for learning for its own sake – for the pure enjoyment of an elegant mathematical solution, in the unexpected ways that we encounter the world through a piece of artwork, the deep joy of listening to a well-performed piece of music and for the emotions tapped in a well-written novel. This is an education that inspires graduates to live lives of meaning and engagement in the world.
In the words of one of my colleagues, Dr. Scheindlin, “we all need skills and knowledge, but we also need access to the reservoirs of meaning that varied cultural expressions can open within us. Any education, and certainly a spiritual education, needs to embrace the fullness of human endeavor and expression.” Please wander through our first floor halls to see how our students see the world using their artistic sense and pause to engage your senses in this experience.
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