The 1990s produced new attention on basic skills that all children should have from and within many disciplines, including the visual and performing arts. Beyond reading, writing and arithmetic – the nostalgic three r’s of schooling – what is considered basic? Is it enough to read, or should we make opportunities and situations that instill a desire to read? Do we write to be mechanically and structurally correct, or do we promote writing to share something interesting? Does math teach us simply to calculate, or are we to learn to reason? Beyond these three r’s, there is the argument that schools are to foster well-developed minds. In the United States, are we not to provide the opportunities for our children to enjoy the intellectual and artistic wealth of our expansive nation? If we are to have even basic knowledge of “the arts” in school, does this broad discipline become part of the basics, or are they ornamental and to be acknowledged after the other basics? The arts, whether visual or performance-based, give children opportunities to experience, understand and to enjoy the important cultural resources of a community or the nation. These are expressive and aethstetic aspects of the world, which are considered to transform the brain into mind (Eisner, 1988).
Eisner, E. (1988). Role of discipline-based art education in American schools. Los Angeles, CA: The Getty Center for Education in the Arts