Decline of arts, literature and the humanities I come from the same background as Liz, and I agree that we have a problem when it comes to emphasizing performance over creativity in American music education. Beyond that, I feel that arts education is an excellent vector for teaching creativity and innovation. As such, I am concerned that the arts are marginalized as electives rather than being part of the core curriculum.
The arts are an excellent way for our students to find their own voices. So, if we want to spark the imagination(s) of our students, it behooves us to provide more opportunities for them to engage through the arts.
Decline of arts, literature and the humanities My concern with Arts Education, especially with Music Education, is the lack of emphasis on utilizing students' creativity in the music classroom. Most schools have performance-based ensembles (i.e. band, orchestra, choir), but offer few courses that involve more freedom and use of creativity. As a future music educator, I believe the music education "curriculum" needs to evolve with current times and the change needs to happen sooner than later. We live in a society where creativity is absolutely essential in all professional fields and we need to "nurture, encourage, and support" students' creativity so that they may further develop it and use it (Brooks & Brooks, 1999, p. 86)
Decline of arts, literature and the humanities It was in the year 2002 that I began to notice a disturbing trend in my country Singapore. Student enrollment at the high school level in English Literature had dropped from 100% before 1990 when the subject was compulsory to 50% in 1992 and 25% in 2002. To date, the figure is probably much lower. This means that within the high school graduating cohort, only 15% to 20% of students are studying literature. When I came to the United States four years ago, I also noticed these trends. Here are more disturbing statistics: The number of students majoring in English declined by 57% in just ten years from 1970 to 1980; from 1980 to 1990, those majoring in the humanities dropped a further 30% to less than 16% while those majoring in business climbed from 14% to 22%; at the high school level, students are turning away from literature in particular and from the humanities in general as observed in that among the millions who take the Preliminary Scholastic Aptitude Test in the tenth grade, only 9% indicate interest in the humanities. Finally, in terms of job listings in English, Literature, and foreign languages, the Modern Language Association reports that these declined by 21% from 2008 to 2009, the biggest decline in thirty-four years. Martha Nussbaum has recently written a book to defend literature and the humanities. Entitled “Not For Profit: Why Democracy Needs the Humanities”, she articulates a disturbing trend that nations, thirsty for profit, are investing their systems of education in applied skills particularly in science and technology so as to stay competitive in the global market. The result is that Literature and the humanities, perceived by policy-makers as useless frills, are being cut away. She cites evidence from various sources including the U.S. Department of Education’s “Commission on the Future of Higher Education” published in 2006 which argues for greater emphasis in highly applied learning designed to contribute to the national economy while leaving little room for the arts and humanities. “If this trend continues,” Nussbaum (2010) observes, “nations all over the world will soon be producing generations of useful machines, rather than complete citizens who can think for themselves, criticize tradition, and understand the significance of another person’s sufferings and achievements” (p. 2). To me, the most troubling part about these trends is the fact that the decline is continuing to happen and it almost seems that the state, society as a whole cannot do anything but watch this continue.
Standardization of education
Standardization of education I think the current push toward standardization, promoted these days by a cadre of swaggering corpo…
Standardization of education I think the current push toward standardization, promoted these days by a cadre of swaggering corporate reformers and bloated Foundations, may be the single most damaging trend in education--one, I hope, that some day we'll look back on with a mixture of embarrassment and horror, like looking back on phrenology or Red-baiting or 1990's boy bands. This trend will remain entrenched unless we change it one school at a time, one classroom at a time. To be clear, educators should not be let off the hook for perpetuating this dubious fad of standardizing the curriculum, fetishizing data, reifying high-stakes tests, and quantifying and sorting human beings. I have worked with plenty of teachers who are, unwittingly or not, greasing the gears of this machine: teachers who value result-orientation, efficiency, and a whole range of pedagogical approaches that work on the theory of one-size-fits-all. After all, let's face it: standardization makes things easier. And it's more satisfying to shift the responsibility to a larger, more distant and abstract entity ("the government," the DOE, NCLB, et al.), but teachers themselves need to reflect on their role in keeping the current system so securely in place.
Standardization of education
Standardization of education I'm interested in this line of questioning, especially as we examine how private, progressive schoo…
Standardization of education I'm interested in this line of questioning, especially as we examine how private, progressive schools have successfully implemented "alternative" curricula that never would be deemed acceptable by state standards. It seems, sadly, that so much of what standardized testing demands of students is not only uninteresting, but remains out of reach for so many students whose particular intelligences remain unacknowledged at school. I also wonder about the viability of allowing students to opt out of the standardized curriculum in favor of pursuing specializations or vocational skills training at an earlier age. If the school experience we currently have to offer students is not working for them, perhaps we need to meet students halfway by providing alternative "educational" settings that will prove more constructive to their lives and better equip them to lead responsible, productive, and happy lives.
Substantive Support for College Teachers As more and more people go to college, there needs to be a greater emphasis on understanding and supporting college professors as teachers that serve students with a wide variety of abilities and needs. We are at a time of ever widening opportunity for many people and we need to train and support college faculty as teachers of these students.