Editorial: More art, less testing

We can’t let another school year end without railing a little on the relentless amount of resources and time spent on standardized testing.

If we could change one thing in today’s schools it would be to lessen the test-taking and mandate time for creative activities.

What if our children spent the same amount of hours in art and music classes each year as they now spend on testing (and practicing for tests)? What if schools were put on academic probation when their first-graders can’t use a scissors or sixth-graders can’t play a musical instrument or high school seniors can’t recite a poem from memory?

Canadian writer Lisa Phillips, author of The Artistic Edge: 7 Skills Children Need to Succeed in an Increasingly Right Brain World, lists on her blog (theartisticedge.ca) the top 10 skills children learn from the arts: (1) creativity (being able to think on their feet and to approach tasks from different perspectives), (2) confidence, (3) problem solving, (4) perseverance, (5) focus, (6) nonverbal communication, (7) the ability to receive constructive feedback, (8) collaboration, (9) dedication and (10) accountability. When children practice creating something collaboratively, Phillips says, they get used to the idea that their actions affect other people. They learn that mistakes happen and are part of the learning process.A recent article in Forbes lists communication skills, creativity, curiosity and the ability to play well with others as essential job skills in today’s market. Ideas, adaptability, collaboration: Children learn those skills when they are immersed in creative activity.

On that note, we send best wishes to the five local Destination ImagiNation (DI) teams who will be spending the last weekend in May at the creative-problem-solving competition’s Global Finals in Knoxville, Tenn. (You can read about them here.)

The rate those 35 DI kids are going, they will be highly employable in a few years.


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