Saturday, August 29, 2015

Inspiration of the Day (For Better Things for Kids)

Got this from Facebook (via Leslie Harris) about kids and the arts via a guy named Darryl A. Chamberlain:

We must always remember the importance of giving our best to our kids. Here is the Monti's Czardas played by The Kanneh-Mason kids. This is what happens when you are willing to get music lessons for your kids.

I always tell anyone who will listen - but especially elected officials - that after class size, the arts seem to be the most important thing to parents for their children.   Mr. Chamberlain speaks of getting music lessons for your kids which may be difficult for many parents (time, cost, getting your child there) but if we had more arts in our schools, that would be something most parents would be overjoyed to see.

Not to start a fight but we were having a discussion on another thread about sports in schools.  Which would you rather see funded and finding the time for - sports or arts?


Anonymous said...

My answer: Neither/both. I want BOTH arts and sports to be supported. I want BOTH to be accessible to all students. I want NEITHER to have participation fees (or if there are, have it be a reasonable one-time student activity fee applicable to both arts and sports). We're a music family, and it is expensive, especially at the high school level with camps and trips, and extra coaches (and never mind the private lessons).

- Ramona H

Melissa Westbrook said...

Ramona, no participation fees? How will you pay for it? I think both can be expensive to support and I wouldn't have a problem with those who can pay to pay (just because in sheer time, parents save money having it at school).

Anonymous said...

Back in the fights over Safeco Field in 1995, someone I knew who'd been a SPED teacher for a few decades said that the money should be spent on huge intramural sports leagues for ALL the kids.

'that would cost money!' say the people who know how to count little which matters.

Yes it would cost money to hire adults to coach all these things, and it would cost money to buy Made In America sporting stuff (frisbees & baseballs & softballs & kick balls & soccer balls & ...) and all that money would go back into the local economy.

And the kids would have stuff do to at their local fields ... with adult supervision. Ummm...

How would this be


Anonymous said...

If we want to hit all kids, then we need to have both, as well as diverse after-school club offerings. My own children were not interested in the arts, but were quite athletic. However, neither were interested in the more common group sports, choosing soccer, gymnastics, rock climbing, diving and swimming as their sport of choice. As a single parent, it was very difficult for me to pay die these, but all had scholarship money that I could apply for. Kids are all different, and gifted in their own unique ways, which I have seen as a teacher. I've had students gifted in drama and interested in robotics, which would be great after school club offerings for those not interested in sports or other arts. Diversity in offerings is the key.

Parents teacher

Anonymous said...

Both. Both need to be supported.


Anonymous said...

The arts. Hands down. Being involved in visual art and music (and dance, too - that counts as an art form) has proven, long lasting personal, cognitive, and yes, even physical benefits (ask a kid you know who is also a wind player how long they can hold their breath underwater... :). Being involved in an orchestra or music ensemble builds incomparable "teamwork" skills, even more intense and subtle than running down a field passing a soccer ball to your left wing player.

Sports/athletics/phsyical fitness are all wonderful outlets but all activities that can often take place outside the school environment. And not, in my opinion, as likely to build the multifaceted lifelong benefits for kids as an intense involvement in the arts. Plus team sports tend to develop an aggressive competitive quality - both among the players themselves, as well as the coaches, parents, and "boosters," as seen from the recent Bellevue scandal. I don't like this side of team sports and don't think it is healthy.

Finally, as so few parents can afford to pay for private music or art lessons, building these activities into the school day is crucial. Many kids (speaking generally here) can get fit for free and on their own by walking, running, playing pick-up basketball, soccer, etc, as well as neighborhood and club sports. But they cannot learn to play the violin without the structured, informed support of a trained teacher.

I only wish that the arts could garner the kind of slavering support that a Bellevue football team can muster...


Rick Burke said...

I want to add a plug and another spin for arts. One of the casualties of education reform over the past decade or two is the loss of hands-on classes like shop, home ec, etc. I was looking through an old Ballard High School yearbook at past teachers, and saw that the wood and metal shop teachers were titled "Industrial Arts".

Elective classes can provide resources, instruction, and sustained exposure to activities which have a high bar to entry. What is the likelihood that students will earn to machine-sew, properly use a wood plane or milling machine, or play cello unless they have access to the equipment and instruction in a classroom environment with their peers?

This takes space and funding which are both scarce right now, but I believe it's a worthy investment to develop motivated and well-rounded students.

Anonymous said...

Reader, the music programs in Seattle are largely funded and operated by parents. They really wouldn't exist without parent support. Parents rent or buy the instruments (and provide funds for program loaned instruments, purchase of sheet music, etc.). Students in the upper level bands and orchestras are also likely to have private lessons. In middle school and high school, the schools benefit from music programs because they can hire one teacher that has hundreds of students in their classes. They can get away with hiring fewer teachers because the student load of a music class can be much higher than a shop class or an art class. A win-win, I suppose.

-reality check

TechyMom said...

All of the above, please. Sports, hands-on visual arts, building crafts, shop, music, drama, robotics, engineering, cooking, sewing, ... SAAS does a really wonderful job with this, integrated into academics. Public middle and high schools did a far better job with it in 1950s, with a slow decline starting in the 70's, and a very rapid decline since NCLB. Remember the story about the long-neglected shop equipment being removed from Meany as part of its remodel?

Andrea Ptak said...

If there's only funding for one or the other, I'd have to choose the arts for many of the same reasons noted above by other commenters. Kids can get a variety of sports activities through community leagues if so desired, and should be getting some of the physical fitness aspects in PE.

The arts offer all kids a chance to connect with their creative side. American creativity is what sets us apart from other countries. We should nurture that by exposing our children to a variety of creative outlets.

Anonymous said...

Melissa, re: no participation fees. Solution: Levy funding.
Yes it is doable, but it takes prioritization and it means weaning ourselves from the notion that "enhancement" needs to be fee-based or fund-raiser based. Use MSOC funds as intended (maintenance, supplies and operating costs), use levies as intended (enhancement for all students.)

Participation fees of $50 or less (applicable to music, sports or some other school activity) is one thing. When fees get into the hundreds we have a serious equity issue.

I know most people blame testing for narrowing the curriculum, and I don't disagree. But I think the way we let essentials like the arts get kicked into fund-raising ALSO narrowed the curriculum.

BTW: This would mean SEA and district can't co-opt MSOC and levy for salaries and admin, like they have been and seemingly intend to continue doing. The salary scale is set by the state (there is some leeway about how to divvy it up locally. But they have to stay within the allocation). Negotiations and lobbying about raises should be with the state. Technically, the district can't give teachers a "raise." They can only write supplemental contracts for TRI pay. And TRI is supposed to be for additional time, responsibility and incentive. Not annual raises, not cost of living.
- Ramona