"Cause our stupid schools sure ain't," she said.

Last weekend I took my daughter to LACMA (the Los Angeles County Museum of Art). I hadn't been in a decade and WOW, was I blown away by the incredible experience.

LACMA is a really good museum. And I like really good museums. Why I haven't been in more than 10 years, I have no idea.

Anyway, LACMA lured us to their museum with an offer of free art for kids. (My daughter's 3 1/2 so what a great way to spend a Sunday, right?) Of course, it was a home run. Of course, there were scores and scores of other parents taking advantage of the day. Of course, 10 minutes after I arrived I was thinking to myself, "Why haven't I waited so long?"

And then the nice lady at LACMA asked my daughter if she wanted to become a member of the museum. She said "Yes!" without asking the price. (She does that a lot.) But as it turns out, the price was free.

As it turns out, they gave her a free membership until she turns 18. It's called NexGen. And everytime she comes, we get one free adult admission as well.

"Cool!" I said. "What a great program."

"Yeah, well, we have to develop the next generation of artists and kids people who appreciate art," the lady told me. "Cause our stupid schools sure ain't," she said.

Owch!

It was an unprompted comment. She didn't even know I was a teacher. She just blasted away with a genuine sense of nobility about what she was doing combined with contempt for what our schools are doing mixed in her voice.

And I could not have agreed more completely.

Is modern day education striving to stamp out the human spirit on purpose or is all this nonsense just a by-product of stupidity, short-sightedness and an a fear that if we do not create enough child-widgets, our country is going to turn into a widget-less adult workforce?

As the proverb says, "Man cannot live by bread alone."

Views: 33

Comment by Tammy Moore on February 4, 2010 at 9:55am
Thought provoking. Do mind if my mind meander with you a bit too? :0)

Sometimes I think that we would have done better in an older system of things where those who teach actually lived that trade for a considerable period of time and had to submit a handful of masterworks to an 'accrediting council' that was itself entirely made up of master workmen in that field before they were allowed to teach anyone. The teacher would have deep knowledge of their profession to pass along. They would have the deeper abiding passion that had leaned the value of patience with the less glamorous side of their field and found that that was the key between average and master craftsman.

What if our art teachers were museum quality artists, our writing teachers having authored books that would be loved by generations of readers (and skilled enough not to need an editor to fix all of her grammar and spelling errors, lol), our math teachers having spent years unraveling the mysteries and problems of real world use of math to solve the challenges of engineering new designs in architecture and construction? That would be such a value to inspiring and guiding the next generation coming up. Inspiring, logical, but perhaps more than a bit idealistic.

I can imagine Rockwell feeling frustrated with manilla paper, brushes that had more than their fair share of bad hair days, and paint of such poor quality that even he couldn't get a decent painting out of it. And what should we do about those that are masters in their field that do indeed find that they love to teach and yet find that they get so burned out that they cannot find the time to create any more and must chose between creating or teaching but both do not coincide together very well?

It was after I graduated from high school before I worked with real artist grade materials and I was so amazed at the difference that quality materials made. I soon went into the profession of illustration and later portraiture. If I had missed that contact with real quality material, would I have missed that opportunity and lost a very valuable part of my life? But in school where 99% of the students in the art class are not really serious about going in to art but took it because it was an easy A and their products have a time investment measured in minutes, not hours of effort, can we justify the expense of real artist quality materials?

Do children with true talent and passion really get feed more from the nurturing and investment that their parents make above and beyond school because all school can really do is status quo and try to cover all the multitude of 'bases' that they are required to touch on which inevitably must result in an inch deep and a mile wide. Would communities do better to find that supporting the parents in supporting their kids in specialty interest areas with access to those master level teachers and true quality tools be as valuable a consideration as adding yet one more 'base' for the school to touch? After homework, do students have the time and energy to follow a passion and develop a talent area during the school year? Are there new tools now that can let students connect with communities that have the same passions and collaborate together to build up skills in that passion? If so, do the teachers know where to find them so that a student can be pointed to it?
Comment by Alan Sitomer on February 4, 2010 at 11:26am
I read this and kept saying, in response to all the thoughtful questions, "Uhm, I don't know."

"Uhm, I don't know."

"Uhm, I don't know."

So that's my response. "Uhm, I don't know." Really.

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