I watched a mediocre, meandering speech by Kurt Vonnegut. The video quality was lousy enough for him to look like he was an intellectual ninja, his mouth struggling to catch up with his voice. And then, he said what I’ve been feeling about education.
“The computer said ‘I’m going to do all the becoming from now on.’ You become by practicing an art no matter how well or badly. And it’s not a way to make a living. And of course the art courses are being cut out of public schools because it’s not a trade. Well, it isn’t a trade. It’s a way to make your soul grow.”
I’m tired of trying to defend the arts and humanities with words like New Economy and Creative Class and innovation. I have never sketched a picture or crafted a poem or conjured up a fantastical, fictional world because I thought it would be a great job skill.
My kids don’t love to draw because they think it will prepare them for a globalized technology. They don’t set out to be creative. They aren’t motivated by an audience or a grade or a prize. There is something deeply human about the creative impulse. They draw, unafraid of how bad it will be.
I’m not opposed to STEM, but I want to see the arts thrive in the classroom. I want to see students paint murals, film documentaries and sketch graphic novels, not because it will “prepare them for the future.” No, I want to see souls grow.
A student from a few years ago created this video. I felt affirmed that we were doing something right in social studies by including the arts: