He might not, but I certainly do! Allow me to explain...
Over the holiday break, Indy and I attended a wedding for his boss. Indy’s boss and his now wife have been very good friends of ours for quite a while, and we couldn’t be happier for them (or more jealous- they’re currently honeymooning in Florida at Disney/Universal Studios). They had a very small, intimate wedding and I’m so glad we were invited to be part of it. Also, it was freaking gorgeous! Mrs. Boss is an incredibly creative lady and hand crafted all her centerpieces and seating cards. It was ridiculously prettyful.
At the wedding, Indy and I sat with a few of his co-workers, all of whom I’ve met before, but none of whom I’ve really had the chance to speak with. As is standard, we all had the polite, “So, _________, what do you do?” conversation. I found out that one of the men we sat with, the husband of Indy’s co-worker, is a principal at a NJ school not far from where I work. When he found out that I am an art teacher, he got very excited, and then apologetic.
“I’m sorry, and quite embarrassed to say, that art class was one of the things we had to cut this year for budgetary reasons. Unfortunately our board of education has the power to overrule what I think is best for my school.”
I felt so sad for this man! It seemed like he was apologizing to me about the decision to cut the arts program.
He went on to explain that before being a principal he was a drama teacher, and loved working with all the kids on the sets for the play and the costumes. He made a point of saying that so much important learning comes from the “doing” in an artful setting. He recalled a specific memory of a student who was helping him build and paint the set for a play and, as if he had a stroke of genius, the student shouted out, “I understand how rulers works now! I get it now!”
Just then, the other man from the other couple who was sitting with us explained that while in school he was big into theater too, and even now participates in local community shows when he can. He admitted that he only ever “really” learned when in his practical and fine arts classes.
“They don’t have those classes anymore: wood shop, home economics, dance, theatre, painting, drawing. All of it is so important! They’re making our children little drones- where’s the real learning? Where’s the self-expression? Where’s the discovery?”
I had just met these two men, but I really could have scooped them up for a big group hug! Such music to my ears to hear two grown, adult men- a principal to boot!- professing their love, admiration and appreciation for arts classes!
Then I felt an overwhelming sense of pride as I explained that while few and far between; those classes still do exist in some schools! I rattled off all the art classes my high school offers, and get ready, cause it’s about to get braggy up in here:
Fine Arts 1,2,3,4
Advanced Fine Arts
Ceramics 1, 2
Photography 1, 2, 3
Introduction to Theatre Arts
Backstage: Technical Theatre Workshop
AP Music Theory
Creative Movement and World Dance
Dance Studio 1, 2
Advanced Dance Workshop
Yeah. Pretty ridiculous.
The conversation went on all night about funny stories or fond memories we shared with our students and teachers in arts classes. Speaking with these people made me realize how lucky I am to be in a district that so strongly supports the visual and performing arts. Each day I go to work is better than the last, and it’s because of the community I work in. I am so fortunate to work in a place where the arts are recognized for all that they do: help children learn in new ways, about the materials they’re using, about themselves, and about each other.