If I Can Only Keep Connected…

Okay, I have been having the dangest time with my cable modem keeping a connection so I am gonna make this quick and hope I can squeeze it in before things break down again.

Courtesy of Artsjournal.com I found a great article on arts education in the spirit of the one I found locally a month or so ago. This one is in Minneapolis/St.Paul where the program is using the arts to teach critical thinking skills. The article points out that in an age when schools need to meet standardized testing, the skills gained are hard to quantify, though certainly valuable in the job market if they are cultivated.

As I am trying to be brief, all I will say is please, read it. And maybe drop a line to the paper praising them for spending so much space in the Sunday paper to discuss this topic.

In a related story, a study by the University of York has found that teaching students grammar actually has very little beneficial effect on the quality of the students’ writing. What does improve writing skills–getting the students to do a lot of writing.

Just like the first story–it is hard to objectively measure the benefits on a standardized test, though good writing skills are definitely marketable.

I talk about marketable skills because that seems to be the big gripe of job seekers and employers–college doesn’t seem to be providing students with marketable skills (I can do a whole series of blogs expressing my thoughts on that topic). As much as I am leery about the whole No Child Left Behind thing, I have to admit, whatever the schools were doing before wasn’t working too well. Students’ abilities and habits were so ill suited to college, the only benefit I could see was that my own skills would be in higher demand as time progressed.

At this point, if I can convince students to cultivate their critical thinking and expressive powers by using money as an incentive, I will toss the phrase “marketable skills” around until it goes passe and comes back into vogue again.

About Joe Patti

I have been writing Butts in the Seats (BitS) on topics of arts and cultural administration since 2004 (yikes!). Given the ever evolving concerns facing the sector, I have yet to exhaust the available subject matter. In addition to BitS, I am a founding contributor to the ArtsHacker (artshacker.com) website where I focus on topics related to boards, law, governance, policy and practice.

I am also an evangelist for the effort to Build Public Will For Arts and Culture being helmed by Arts Midwest and the Metropolitan Group. (http://www.creatingconnection.org/about/)

My most recent role was as Executive Director of the Grand Opera House in Macon, GA.

Among the things I am most proud are having produced an opera in the Hawaiian language and a dance drama about Hawaii's snow goddess Poli'ahu while working as a Theater Manager in Hawaii. Though there are many more highlights than there is space here to list.


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