Friday, January 20, 2012

The Arts in Education

I got to pondering on writing this morning. It is another art form I love - I love to write, I love to read. And I am lucky enough to have earned income from my writing over the years, although it‘s taken more of a backseat to my painting the past 9 years. What got me today was an interesting article on poetry in the Washington Post’s Sunday magazine - I read while I ride my stupid exercise bike… if I didn’t read, I’d not ride it. See how good reading is for you?

What caught my attention was how a young kid called, to paraphrase, “a bad one,” turned his life around because of poetry. This immediately brought out one of my soapboxes, not to mention my hobby horse riding high on top of said soapbox. Art is essential in education.

Naturally headstrong and rebellious, who knows where I could have landed up if I hadn’t had marvelous, strong and passionate teachers who got the meaning, and an appreciation for literature, poetry, painting, dance, music and debate through my obstinate and silly teenage head. I should be offering up a daily thank you to Suzie K., Petal,  Mrs. Crewe and many more at my wonderful boarding school, Epworth in South Africa. The school and I both survived those years with good humour and my great respect for the school, it’s teachers and staff remains undimmed. Just for the record, my parents were a very strong influence in this regard well before I went to boarding school - my schooling reinforced what they valiantly tried to get through my thick, independent but unformed mind.

Art, in it’s many forms, is not for the sole benefit or understanding of a liberal elite. Far too many idiotic politicians use this argument as they slash funding for the arts in schools. All it does is make the politician look more ignorant. Americans for the Arts have a wonderful long list of why art in education is essential - they put it much better than I can. Check it out at 

If politicians would quit their posturing, putting up road blocks and generally behaving badly and instead actually look to, and implement, solving problems, they would make a good start by funding art in education again. It would go a good distance to bring back civility to modern life. We sure could do with it. Maybe we should send every politician in the world a poem to read - entitled “Art is essential in education.” It’s a simple truth.

To be balanced, I am proud the State of Delaware recognizes the importance of art in education. Our First Lady gave an excellent talk at the Arts Summit 2011 on the subject. Here’s a short but reaffirming video from the DE Div of the Arts… 

And finally - on to an update on my ‘Vukusakhe’ project : Painting 1 is complete. Painting 2 - a much more haunting subject than the first traditional village scene, is going very well. I prepped Painting 3 and start on it today maybe. I’m chronicling the progress of the Vukusakhe project on my gallery face book page and am starting a page on my website about it…if you’re interested, go to  or


Carol Lee Beckx said...

Great post,Anne. I agree with you - we ignore art education at our peril.

Scott said...

Check out Harry Chapin's song "Flowers are Red" (I think is the title...) Loved the post.

Anne Jenkins Art said...

Yes, I know the one, sad isn't it? And unfortunately, so true.