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Should we consider the arts a core subject area? This perennial debate often centers on whether the skills, knowledge, and values that students receive from an arts education are essential to their future success.
In the May 1992 issue of Educational Leadership, music teacher Karl J. Glenn mounts a passionate defense for the arts, arguing that without them, our next generation will lack the key tools they need to live fully human lives.
Read the article: "The Forgotten Arts" (PDF)
Looking back to the landmark 1983 report A Nation at Risk, Glenn notes that the national conversation surrounding education has come to concentrate predominately on English, math, science, history, and geography—subjects areas that were understood to foster a productive U.S. workforce and give an edge in international competitiveness. Lost in the shuffle, Glenn contends, is another essential component of education—its ability to teach us about what it means to be human:
Music and the other arts are not extras but basic. They are just as intrinsic an element of the term "educated" as are mathematics, language, history, and science. They are inherent to what it means to be human because the arts are the arenas where we work out our deepest longings and articulate our highest hopes. To deprive a child of the knowledge and tools to explore the domain of the arts is to subject him or her to a kind of spiritual starvation; a child with no key to this door grows up with a malnourished soul.
Today, the arts still struggle to get the same sort of attention as other core subject areas. So, how can educators make sure arts education doesn't get left behind?
In "My Back Pages," we look at important issues through the historical lens of the Educational Leadership archives. ASCD members can access EL issues from 1943 to the present by signing in at the right.
Ben Licciardi is a project coordinator in ASCD's Information Resource Center.
ASCD Express, Vol. 6, No. 11. Copyright 2011 by ASCD. All rights reserved. Visit www.ascd.org/ascdexpress.
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