Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Why Support Fine Arts Education?

The start of a new school year is a good time to think about the education our children receive, and the role of fine arts in their development. Downers Grove South Friends of Fine Arts (FOFA) firmly believes in the importance of fine arts instruction -- whether visual or musical -- and exists to help ensure students are fully supported in their artistic endeavors.

That's why we'd like to share excerpts from "Trimming music ed in schools is a mistake," by Mark George, president and CEO of the Music Institute of Chicago, recently published in the Chicago Tribune:

"The drive to elevate the academic success of K-12 students has yielded decidedly mixed results. Not even rigorous academic curricula and well-trained teachers are enough to satisfy the developmental needs, varying learning styles and aesthetic hunger of all students.

It takes a courageous administrator to fund music education in schools when there is so much pressure to improve math and science test scores, and so little emphasis on the arts. Cash-strapped school districts are dropping serious music instruction, as though it is merely expensive play time and not essential to the development of successful, high-achieving students. The remaining general music programs are often executed with poor resources and even lower expectations.

The diminishing of music education in our schools and in the larger culture is a huge mistake. Children are not empty vessels that can be filled with facts and then declared competent. They are little human beings who respond and grow at a rate largely determined by their environment. The arts provide a depth of understanding and even the basis for understanding for some children on their long road to achievement. And perhaps most important, the arts provide a way for children to envision the possibilities of a world outside of their immediate circumstances."

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