At some point, we decided that Algebra was more important than theater. We decided that learning to read music was less important than learning about dead presidents and old wars. We decided that knowing how to use negative space in your drawing didn’t matter as much as knowing what a preposition was.
And I think it sucks.
For some reason, schools have decided that reading, writing, and arithmetic are at the very core of life, and that these are the most important things our children need to know. And that things like choir, band and art aren’t as viable to life.
The crazy thing is, in my life I write every day. Language is very important to me, but math? Algebra and Geometry and virtually useless to me. I never ever use those skills and spending my time learning them both in high school and in college means that I spent less time perfecting what I was really good at.
Why? Why was it so important that I spend years struggling to understand graphs and fractions when what I needed to know in order to be successful was how to write meaningful prose.
Why should my daughter spend her days learning what a cosign is when really she should be singing. She should spend her days doing what she’s good at. What she enjoys.
She should be perfecting that, not worrying about the pythagorean theorem or understanding how the elements of the periodic table work.
When she’s older, she will do something musical. It’s in her blood, it’s what makes her feel alive. Maybe it will be on a stage somewhere, or it will be teaching others. Either way, music is what makes her heart happy, and math and science are just standing in the way of her getting better at what she’s been given the talent to do.
How is that fair? How is it that kids who are naturally good at academics are given the advantage that their talents are celebrated as core learning while my daughter’s is considered extra curricular? Why must she spend her nights and weekends doing the thing she loves and her days doing what is required of her?
It’s not like these kids are learning basic life skills in these classes like how to do their taxes or how to eat a balanced diet. They’re learning things like how to color in maps correctly (come on, who needs a map? These kids have a magic device in their hands 24/7 that will get them where they need to go) or how to write a geometric proof.
None of that is something my daughter needs to know in order to have a career in music. None of it is something I need to know in order to be a best selling author. Yet, passing Algebra almost kept me from graduating college.
That’s right, Algebra was so difficult for me that even though I spent four years in an institution of higher learning, I almost didn’t get a degree because I couldn’t get a passing grade in Algebra.
And that just doesn’t make any sense. Why should I have to have a passing grade in Algebra in order to become an English teacher? Why should that matter?
Why is it that in order to get to sing, the thing that my daughter loves the most, she has to do well in science or history?
Nobody makes kids do really well in choir and band in order to get to participate in science class.
How can we fix this? How do we make the arts as important as the other things in school? What can we do to show our artistic kids that the things they are good at are just as important as the things the science kids are good at?