“Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up.”
― Pablo Picasso
I am dreadfully in love with Sir Ken Robinson, and have been since I heard his first Ted talk entitled “Do Schools Kill Creativity?” My interpretation of his talk, therefore, may be a bit biased. I think it is so important to bring humor to important topics such as education, for many reasons. The first is that it helps to grab the attention of what may otherwise be an uninterested audience. Also, it brings joy to the simple task of listening. Sir Ken Robinson manages to be both humorous and serious, both joyful and fearful.
When he began discussing the topic of ‘No Child Left Behind’ in his talk, I perked up in my chair. This has been a politically dividing topic for what seems to be the majority of my lifetime. Improving eduction is at the forefront of most every politicians mind, however the way in which we go about improving it is a different topic entirely. What about the students who are in school but do not enjoy being in school? What about the student who learns differently? We certainly don’t want to leave these students behind. We must not only recognize the importance of education, but also acknowledge how different each children is from one another and how differently they learn. We mustn’t conform. He continues, “A real education has to give equal weight to the arts, the humanities, and to physical eduction.”
I’m going to use my grandmother as an example, for a few reasons. She grew up with dyslexia. She is an artist. She is a philanthropist. She donated millions of dollars to have an arts center built on campus. Her name is P. Buckley Moss, my mom’s mother, and she is absolutely incredible. Her childhood, however, was far from incredible. The way her story differs from many other children similar to her was this: a teacher in grade school recognized her talent in the arts and helped her to find a way to incorporate art into her schooling, which she otherwise did not excel. Her dyslexia prevented her from understanding simple math equations. She still spells my name wrong from time to time on birthday cards. For her, it took one person, one teacher, to recognize that she was different and to embrace her talents and interests rather than using them as a crutch to hold her back. Art changed my grandmother’s life for the better, and I wonder where she would be today if her artistic mind was not given the opportunity to flourish in her elementary school classroom. According to Robinson, “the arts aren’t just important because they improve math skills, they are important because they speak to parts of children being which are otherwise untouched.” I’m grateful that my grandmother had the opportunity to learn and grow immersed in her artwork and embraced by her educators.
How important it is for all educators to recognize the support needed by students who learn differently. How important it is for educators to teach them differently. Classrooms and schools mustn’t be molded and shaped to fit the ideals of a group of legislators. We cannot lose sight of the little minds and the little souls inside those little bodies. We cannot forget that at the very root of the word humanities is ‘human.’ Let us praise and celebrate the true and immeasurable beauty of what makes us human– our differences.