Recently, I read a report on School District 73’s high priority budget items.
I was struck not by what was included, but what was not.
Certainly I cannot argue the importance of the areas listed. If the academic studies leading to greater skill development in numeracy requires more money to bring the district up to a reasonable standard, so be it.
Certainly the area of mathematics is important to develop the rigorous analysis of our civilization.
It is the “Sparta” of our curricula, becoming increasingly necessary in all science subdisciplines.
But considering the fact our global civilization is under increasing social and environmental attack akin to the desperate times of the Second World War, it seems to me our educational system should be more of a leader than ever, emphasizing the common humanity of all peoples.
This requires a literacy only found through the arts, those studies and skills by which we are sensitized to see, hear and feel the emotional world that unites us all.
They are the “Athens” of the curricula.
Music, theater, sculpture, literature — the arts in all its forms — are the humanizing and integrative elements of all societies. They are the warp and woof in the tapestry of civilization.
Who has not been inspired by the choral symphony Ode to Joy, the choir singing of the brotherhood of man and lifting spirits to the heavens?
Who has not been moved to tears at the violence in a stage or film production of Richard Wagamese’s Indian Horse?
Who has not marvelled at the Renaissance humanism of Michelangelo’s David as he represents the force of opposition to Goliath’s tyranny?
Who has not felt the warmth of boyhood friendship in Mark Twain’s Adventures of Tom Sawyer?
And where does this sensitivity begin and increase?
It is through a school system that recognizes the power of the arts.
We are in peril if we do not invest in them in a substantial way. By all means, train the intellect, but at the same time, prioritize the soul.