Art definitely belongs among core disciplines
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by John Nippolt
2014 Spectator Ron - The Spectator All Rights Reserved
        I quit the teaching business on the last day of August, 2013. Retired. I closed the door behind me. I was done with it and I am. Except for this...
        Near the end, public school teachers were being introduced to Danielson training, the current educational reform obligation. Mandatory nutshell versions of how curriculum should develop was packaged up in two days of meetings. An expensive waste of time for training that every professionally certified teacher should already know.
         Educational learning examples are always only formulated around math, science, and English. I championed art education as core, the only part of NCLB I agreed with. Art education is required core curriculum, written into law. The architects of public education here in Hawaii paid no attention. The Secretary of Education announced this in a directive that seems to have never made it beyond the superintendent of school's office.
        Years passed. I couldn't fathom the reluctance of the DOE to recognize new gateways for students to understand how to learn. In art, because a student doesn't have the same talent as someone more gifted, it doesn't mean they can't have perhaps an even greater appreciation for it. Art education shows students how learning develops through process which provides learning skills that can be utilized in all subjects. The discipline demands being on time and maintaining solid attendance. Participation, preparedness, completing all assignments, and being able to create a finished product. Basic elements students need to self-actualize their educational goals. Learning that applies to every child.
        Students are unsure of their creative ability; the real mystery has yet to be unlocked. They are steered into basics, the fundamental hows and whys needed to advance, and most always want to advance. Until they learn the basic rules of working in an art studio and gain an appreciation of the hard work it takes to create, the juices won't flow. Like learning the importance of time allocation, something that must take place before students lift a brush.
        Imagine the time it takes just to learn preparing to paint. Arrange the palette; What colors? How much paint? What tools? How much time for actual work? Drying time? Cleaning up and putting things away? Step by step procedures over and over again. Art might be subjective but improvement is still measureable. The ability to create a positive student work ethic for learning through arts education is a good idea.
        Finally, my teaching beliefs and I were forced out by absurdity. Rules eliminating basic tenants of education: No one fails! No grading homework! Spelling doesn't matter! You can't grade tardiness, absenteeism nor bad behavior. Students break laws and get suspended, teachers must provide home work. The burden of intimidating demands coupled with the threat of punitive measures in the workplace is not productive. Teachers and their profession have been undermined by those in charge, who created an educational community stuck in the mire of political agendas. Change for the sake of change doesn't work
        Ultimately, children pay for this great disservice. New learners actually thrive on discipline. Hawaii public schools offer little or none. Public school students are molly-coddled and squished through a system riddled with multi-level bureaucratic problems.
        A sage educator warned, "Beware of what you say art can do. Educational leadership will hold arts education accountable to demands that diminish rather than enhance the creative process." Art education instruction holds hands with all core disciplines. Visual arts stimulate learning, illuminate history, impact society and culture. Everyone thinks art is frivolous and has no place in serious learning. It couldn't be further from the truth.