Neal A. Lester, PhD, is a Foundation Professor of English, Associated Vice President of Arts and Humanities and Director of Project Humanities at Arizona State University.
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Studies have shown that children who study music are better at math and science, perhaps because of stimulation and synaptic development between components of the brain. Study of literature and art may be the only way to relate history and human behavior to a modern world. There is no specific line defining where craft ends and art begins but at some point science, medicine, entrepreneurship and leadership all cross that line. Without skills of critical thinking, acute perception, and an ability to originate new concepts by cross-disciplinary synthesis, future generations will not be able to stand on the shoulders of giants of the past.
I say teach to the core, reading, writing and arithmetics. The second tier subjects should be science and history. I would put the humanities, art, music and physical education in the third tier of subjects to teach.
A college professor of Arts and Humanities writing an article claiming his field of study (and his job) are just as important as other fields of study. What a shocker. Reminds me of the communications professor spending the entire first day explaining how important the "science" of communication was. And that was one of the most worthless classes I took in college.
Arts and humanities are important, and should be funded. But don't try and claim they are equal...
"music, memory, and music therapy that opened the door to wounded Congresswoman Gabby Giffords’ miraculous recovery".
Do you think the neurosurgeon had at least a little bit to do with it? Talk about huberis.
DonMey, you are disappointing.
It is truly amazing how music therapy helps those with brain injury. Here is a short clip about Giffords and music therapy. http://youtu.be/tiJ9X_wLSWM
A well written, and thought out article. I like how Neal put BOTH Romeny and Obama under the microscope. What good is intellience if the person doesn't have the moral sense for guidance?
The question is not whether the Arts are equal to science and math, it is probably superior. The question is where is the best place to learn them. What college could have taught Hendrix guitar? Is Naked Lunch best produced by a grad student in the dorm, or a Junkie bumming his way through the world? Does a college prof HOWL? In other words is academia the proper place for it? If it's beneficial it's new, it's creation, not reproduction. The best at it fail in academia. And if it's important, it influences without education. Education is reproduction, art is creation. Mankind survives by both.
Mike McClellan another columnist here, taught a literature curriculum that would gag a maggot. He made Van Gogh, Kerouac, Claude Simon, good little opinionated Democrats. Academia tends to teach right and wrong, and in the Arts, that is only a regressive concept.
When I get down, I take my easel, set it in the backyard fill balloons with paint and throw them at a gessoed canvas, and contemplate my creations. If that doesn't work I play Pollack and whip them into shape. Study that!
As usual, the postings seem to have a mindset of one field of study being superior to the other.
This is not reality. Some people have skills in technical sciences, others have skills in the arts or in social sciences. And when it comes to funding, all these lose out to sports--big time.
As a former educator, I knew many students who stayed in high school only because of their classes in visual or performing arts. How many of those who are decrying Dr. Lester's article enjoy going to a movie, a play, a concert, etc.? People should stop to consider the role that arts and humanities play in their own personal lives before deciding that they have no place in educational institutions. Yes, natural talent plays a large role in the careers of many gifted entertainers; however, many others have had to do it the hard way--through training, practice, and diligence.
And, for the record, I taught one of the required core courses, not an elective course.
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