Things are moving quickly in education these days. Some schools are open in Quebec while others will remain closed until September. Both students and teachers are living with daily uncertainty – and they have to adapt to the shifting ground in creative ways. During confinement, we have all been avid consumers of the arts. We have soothed ourselves with music and learned the guitar. We have painted rainbows and danced for TikTok. We have laughed and cried as we got lost in movies and series. The arts have connected us to ourselves and, ultimately, to each other, reminding us that we are not alone. The Arts bring us to life – and they bring learning to life as well, come what may.
And yet, the Arts have been side-lined in official statements, as though “essential learning” did not include the arts. Every time we hit a crisis, the reflex is to take a back-to-basics approach in the classroom, which often means cutting out the arts. But we discover time and time again that, in these times of upheaval, it is the the arts that are most essential in our lives. It is during these uncertain times that creativity flourishes and artistic practices nourish our minds and spirits.
We believe that making art allows students to connect with ideas and process emotions in holistic and meaningful ways. We believe that when the Arts are placed at the centre of our curriculum, the learning environment transforms classrooms into stages, hallways into galleries, facts into stories, and memories into legacies. Drama easily woos the languages and the social sciences; music serenades history, science and mathematics; dance makes science and music come alive and the visual arts make visible both concrete ideas and the abstract.
We ask you to share the vision where math becomes a part of an art class and vice versa, where language can be taught by art appreciation, where critical thinking can leap off the page in a critique of a play, where Physical Education and Science can examine the movements and muscles of a ballet dancer. The endless pairings of the arts and other core subjects can easily be reached with a conscious understanding of the importance the Arts play in developing not only well-educated students, but happy, engaged ones as well.
At MAD2, we believe that we are all artists. Our capacity to create and inspire is what brings us together. We believe that teachers can and will use their innate creativity to inspire students to access their own creative powers, at a time when creative thinking is what is needed most.
Be well, stay safe, make art,
The MAD2 DEEN Committee for the Arts
I sincerely believe that arts are essential!
If we look at what kept us all sane during these months of confinement we can learn something.
The essential workers, the medical professionals, the delivery people, the farmers, the grocery employees etc…they kept us alive and fed. They met our basic needs. We would not have survived without them.
But the soul, the heart and the mind also need nourishment…they too need to be fed as they are also basic needs.
The government realized just lately that an elderly person who is being kept alive but not engaged or motivated to do so, will die…their bodies cannot sustain life without their hearts and minds also being engaged and motivated.
I know that I turned to the artists, the singers, the poets, the actors, the storytellers, the dancers and the athletes when my morale was low … the creatives were the ones who kept me engaged and made me laugh…they allowed me to hold on.
I sincerely believe that there has been an egregious mistake… The arts in education are essential, as they are what help children digest all knowledge in school.
I believe that after a little while, the government will realize their grave error in judgement, just as they did with our elderly patients in the CLSC’s….I hope.
If the goal is to sustain engagement, it is not possible to do so by blocking or negating the importance of creativity and expression.
Agreed. Especially as many teachers will be teaching online, where engagement is even harder to generate and sustain! Thanks for your thoughtful comment.