primalmommy@IVILLAGE.COM on thu 2 aug 01
The problem with art (music, etc.) in the public schools is that it's too hard to measure and grade. It's subjective, and so doesn't translate well to the all important assessment tests (which the current administration has linked to support and funding for public schools. If Bush says "accountability" one more time I'm defecting to Canada.)
I think we're fast approaching a day when any curriculum is considered irrelevant if it doesn't translate to filling in ovals on the exam with a #2 pencil . That means anything that doesn't have a clear right and wrong answer. So much for teaching critical thinking!
The college freshmen who landed in my english classes every year were incredibly goal-focused, concerned with grades and a diploma over all else; they complained loud and long over any course requirements that didn't seem directly relevant to their major. "Why do I need literature? I'm going to be an engineer." "I don't care about creative writing! I'm a biology major." They were sure they'd never need to write an essay, consider folklore and mythology relevant, read fiction... I know that teachers in art, music, psych, sociology got the same eye-rolling from students.
They had been so goal-channeled that it never occurred to them that there would be life outside of their jobs, or that the quality of it could be enhanced; they seemed determined to become specific cogs in a specific machine, and unconcerned with any focus wider than that. And it all starts with gold stars in kindergarten. The extrinsic motivation game, teaching by carrot and stick, encourages kids not to wonder what they want but to do as they are told -- one size fits all goals.
It made me sad, and still does. Fortunately, enough parents get hopping mad that alternatives are popping up; there is a performing arts high school a mile from my house, some charter schools are surviving growing pains, and a lot of us who homeschool are forming cooperative groups, pooling skills and resources, and taking advantage of the "strength in numbers" to get access to community science programs, language classes, theatre, sports, museum resources, metropark programs, "field trips", etc.
Yours, Kelly in Ohio (whose 7 year old is making claymations with modeling clay and a garage-sale video camera; whose 5 year old is pestering for help hooking up the stoneware fountain he made with a cactus and iguanas (an oddly wet mojave scene!) and whose 3 year old is still sporting the shadow of purple spots she painted herself with in yesterday's tempera paint adventure at the picnic table... )
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L. P. Skeen on thu 2 aug 01
> The problem with art (music, etc.) in the public schools is that it's too
hard to measure and grade. It's subjective, and so doesn't translate well to
the all important assessment tests (which the current administration has
linked to support and funding for public schools)
True. I was flat out told to my face last year by my principal that staff
development funds were only to be used for things that would help the kids
pass the color-in-the-dot test, so she did not consider NCECA or the state
Art Ed conference to be helpful and thus backed out of paying for them (but
only AFTER I had registered and pre-paid w/ her blessing in the first
Jocelyn McAuley on thu 2 aug 01
Your post about measuring and grading art and music in schools reminded
me of a fascinating web site my co-worker and I found one day.
is the Nation's Report Card site which has examples of tests issued to
gradeschoolers to assess their development in various subject
areas. Included in the arts section are example tests in art and music,
and examples of the range of students responses, and how they were scored.
It's a fascinating glimpse into students' abilities.
Jocelyn McAuley ><<'> email@example.com
Helen Bates on fri 3 aug 01
> The problem with art (music, etc.) in the public schools is that it's too hard to measure and
> grade. It's subjective, and so doesn't translate well to the all important assessment tests
> (which the current administration has linked to support and funding for public schools. If
> Bush says "accountability" one more time I'm defecting to Canada.)
Kelly, don't bother...
Canadian school administrations have long since copied the Grinch
(Newt Gingrich) system for hollowing out our educational system. :-/