A friend asked me the other day, as we were talking about our daughters’ school performances, “Do we really care what Henri Matisse’s math scores were?” In other words, how do we measure “intelligence”? And how do we create an environment in which our kids discover all the talents they may have to offer the world?
Reading Ken Robinson’s Out of Our Minds, in which he discusses the importance of cultivating creativity, I’m learning that it has only been recently in our education system history that we divide the arts education from math and science subjects. Consider Leonardo da Vinci, whom we know not just for his Last Supper but for his contributions to anatomy and engineering. Did you know that a bridge, based on one of his sketches, was actually constructed in Norway in 2001?
Sir Robinson points out in his book that at universities, professors in the arts and literature departments are employed to write about other artists and writers, rather than to create works of art and literature. He contrasts this to those in science departments, who are paid to produce their own, unique research projects. We can see this mindset permeate education through high school and towards early education, as arts and music programs continue loose funding, and emphasis is placed on math, science and engineering disciplines. And then Sir Robinson follows with the natural question—will valuing these disciplines differently actually serve us into the 21st century? Will we not, in fact, need all the ingenuity we can find, as we try to solve global issues like climate change, economic growth and conflict during a time when most people carry in their cell phones or even wristwatches more “power and memory than the 1969 Apollo Moonlander”?
Sometimes we see the arts as being something we do for relaxation or downtime. Or something that the touchy-feely types do and never really make any money at doing. But what if we could view them as a way to help people discover their potential? Or what if we can use art education as a way to help our kids develop certain skill sets (such as collaboration, visual representation, and kinesthetic awareness) that they can in turn use in their future jobs—jobs that may not even exist today, that we may not even imagine possible?
These are big thoughts when one is just trying to get through the day with a toddler and a newborn. When changing diapers and calming the temper tantrums, while trying to get the laundry done and that work project completed, weigh on us more heavily than the latest photos of Pluto.
However, this is one of the gifts of Kindermusik. Taking the time to get to class, we can structure some weekly time to connect, some time to focus on our little ones. But we will also be rewiring their brains, helping them to unlock their potential and fostering creativity skills that will help them on their middle school science projects and beyond.
 Robinson, Ken. Out of Our Minds. Chicehster, West Sussex: Capstone Publishing Ltd: 2011. Print.