Monday, April 28, 2008

First They Came for the Artists, and I didn't speak up

First they came for the Artists, and I didn't speak up because I didn't know how to paint.

Then they came for the Musicians, and I didn't speak up because I didn't know how to play the flute.

Then they came for the Poets, and I didn't speak up because I didn't know how to write in rhyme.

Then they came for the Philosophers, and I didn't speak up because I didn't know how to ponder the mysteries.

Then they came for the Geographers, and I didn't speak up because I didn't know there was anything left to discover.

Then they came for the Historians, and I didn't speak up because I didn't know why the past was so important.

Finally they came for me, the Future of America, and there was no one left to lead because they didn't look for me in the beginning.

As someone with a degree in American History, I've never liked the No Child Left Behind Act. Sure it sounds great in theory, more agressively teaching children to read, write and do math and science, but in reality, it is damning the future of our nation.

Why am in such a knot over this when my daughter is only 3? I saw this photo over at emawkc's blog last week and it reminded me of an article I read in a museum magazine a few months ago about how history, civics and geography are slowly being decreased in the classroom so that students (the future political leaders of tomorrow) will test well enough to continue the school's funding under the No Child Left Behind Act.

Yes, I believe every child in America should know how to read, write, understand scientific principles and do math. Vital knowledge. Is it how we create future leaders? Not entirely.

I read this article that stated less than half the teenagers polled in a recent phone survey knew when the Civil War was fought. Even more frightening, about 25% could not identify Adolph Hitler.

Remember that worn out old phrase "Those who do not understand history are doomed to repeat it?"

No Child Left Behind is undermining programs such as History, Civics, Geography and the other social sciences in schools all across the country. Not only that, programs such as music, art, speech, debate, home economics, industrial arts, and physical education--as well as recess (no wonder our kids are becoming fatter) are being eliminated.

Why is Shop and Home Ec so important? There is a frightening shortage of a technically trained workforce right now. Jobs such as skilled mechanics, plumbers, electricians, HVAC technicians are being left unfilled and not because there is a lack of jobs.

Think the debate team and the marching band aren't really that important? It's proven that music enhances mathmatical learning. It's a clear fact that if our children are taught critical thinking and how to intelligently debate an argument, they are on a better path to make nationally impacting decisions.

If they aren't inspired by the arts, how are they taught to dream of a better tomorrow? Of creating something out of their imagination?

Something that is even more disturbing is this article I read about how teachers, worried about their jobs and their raises are encouraging/helping their students to cheat just so they acheive the proper test scores.

Even the class field trip is in jeapordy. Due to high fuel rates and less time to spend educating our children about history, school trips to museums are significantly down.

So what? If children aren't exposed to going to museums or arts events like plays and concerts at an early age, it's highly unlikely that they will do so as they grow older.

Many museums are struggling financially due to the shortage of these visits. Ask any museum where they make their money and top of the list is class trips. Many are starting outreach programs just to be able to teach children history (and help their revenue).

We've come a long way since LBJ's Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965, but No Child Left Behind is leaving America's future in a very frightening place.

There...I've hopped down from my soapbox.


kcmeesha said...

I agree. I never liked history that much because we were made to memorize dates of battles and other worthless info. But I doesn't mean I don't have a pretty good idea. Luckily my kid likes to learn, even if prompted by an unconventional source. Today she was watching "Night at the museum" and asked to go to the museum of natural history in NYC on our upcoming trip.