little hands creating

I have quite a few 'mom friends' that I communicate with on a regular basis. Some are friends of mine through my son's school. Others are friends through a local moms group that I used to be a part of. And of course I have a few that I have become close with online through this blog and even, dare I say, Twitter. By the way, for those of you who have not used Twitter for whatever reason, I find it a beautiful tool for connecting with people. I mean, take it for what it is of course, but I learn a lot on there. So getting back to my story, we talk about all kinds of parenting topics from bed wetting to healthy eating to bullying. But there is a subject that has come up quite often over the past couple of years that is rather alarming to me. I am constantly hearing about art and music programs closing in public schools. Why?
I know the answer... because of lack of funding or lack of time or lack of space or lack of instructors. At least those are the answers usually given. But don't we send our children to school to help prepare them to live in the world as adults? Well I don't know about you but is your world all math and science and social studies? Of course not. Life is filled with a variety of things. And the arts are a huge part of it all. A delightful part. Appreciation of the beauty of creation. If you haven't got that what do you have? So why is such a large part of life so often being left out of schools or kept to a minimum? Having the ability to freely create is fundamental in any human existence. Create freely, with your own mind, your own hands, your own ideas. Not to be bound by rules or regulations, goodness knows we have enough of those in every other subject in school. To let your imagination soar and create on a level completely free of preconceived notions. This is a part of life we all need. It is essential. It is indeed, the only way this world will ever move forward.
Every child should know that they can create what is in front of them, and that they do not have to follow another one's path. They can choose their own path, and with a brush stroke or pencil line or spoken word, they can change it. I want my child to know that it is okay to be himself. We all need to express ourselves and art provides a way to do this. We are born to create.

I am extremely fortunate that my son's school seems to understand the importance of art. They have a thriving music program and they participate in art several times a week. He comes home with gorgeous pictures and structures he has created and I can see how proud he is. 'See what I made Mom.' And he explains to me how he came up with this project and how he decided to go about building it. We talk about his inspiration and why he wanted to go this direction. It is as clear as day to him because it is his creation. He shares songs he has learned and sits at our keyboard and plays tunes by ear.
Yet I speak to parents who's children have lost music in their schools, who have little to no art time and even recess time has been slashed. What is going on? It saddens me that these things seem to be expendable. 'Expendable': more easily or economically replaced than rescued, salvaged, or protected (Webster Dictionary). Replaced with what? More math, more science, more reading. These are all important parts of learning, but no more than the arts. So many parents that have realized this have chosen to take their kids out of public school. What does this mean for the public school system?

Now I am not naive enough to assume that everyone agrees with me. However, I know a lot of people do. But whatever you believe, whatever you think is important, make it known. Be an active participant in your child's education. It is the only way things will change.

So there is my little rant of the day, if you can call it a rant. My son has shown a great interest and talent for drawing, so I have decided to start him in an after school art program at an art studio that I frequent. He was so excited for his first class yesterday. Here is what he created, with his own little hands.
Talented little seven year old boy I have here. May he always know what it feels like to create... and may he always be free to do so.

Please watch this... I love her. Andrea Gibson.