By Joy Kita Dramatic Teaching: Recognizing the Importance of the Arts
. . . Most of us trudge the same well-worn road toward
academic mastery with little regard to the creative arts.
When you think about your homeschooling journey, what sort of things come to mind? Are you satisfied? Do you wonder if you might be
missing a key ingredient? Is your heart
full of worry or even anger? Are you so
consumed with the task of “doing” that
you miss out on the joy of “being”? For
many of us, our day-to-day activities are
so focused on getting it all done that we
forget to enjoy the process. We trudge
through the subjects mindful of scope
and sequence, dreaming of the holidays
or graduation, without stopping to consider why we are not having more fun.
Fun is such an ambiguous term. What
does it really mean, and can it possibly
share a sentence with the word school
without a negative contraction preceding
it? The dictionary defines fun as “
something that provides mirth or amusement.” The question before us, the one
our children long since gave up asking, is
this: Can homeschooling be fun?
Traditional schools have been quite effective in killing off a child’s natural tendency to enjoy learning. Rote memorization of facts has replaced curiosity, and
creativity is shut down in the primary
years with the unwavering focus on academic proficiency. Homeschoolers know
these facts. They might even represent
some of the reasons for choosing an alternative path, and yet most of us trudge
the same well-worn road toward academic mastery with little regard to the
Traditional brick and mortar schools
came into being at the beginning of the
nineteenth century as a result of the Industrial Revolution. Achieving academic
proficiency was a top priority and thus
became a top priority among education
goals. Consequently, students focused
mainly on the subjects that ensured they
would find work. The arts were deemed
extracurricular activities with no pretense of having the same status or worth
as the weightier subjects.
Sadly, this mindset has not changed over
the decades, which should not come as a
surprise when you consider the fact that
the institution of learning has survived the
years virtually unscathed. The U.S. educational system remains a factory that churns
out like-minded academic achievers.
Many people agree that it is time to
change the way we educate our children
and to rethink the meaning of intelligence, but change requires change-makers
who have the confidence to demolish “the
box.” If you homeschool you have already
side-stepped a societal tradition, and you
are already an established creative thinker.
How easy it would be to apply that innovation to your curriculum choices!
In a busy homeschooling family, certain subjects that appear not to carry
much academic weight are often pushed
aside and forgotten. The study of art and
all of its media is usually the weakest link
on the homeschool lesson chain. However, the development of creativity is certainly as important as the development