You may have seen the news that the cast of the Broadway show Hamilton traveled to DC this week to perform for students in the White House. This tweet from Michele Norris caught my eye:
Why @HamiltonMusical trip to WH was SO important. Simply put Arts Education matters. So there.
She links to this Huffington Post article by Katherine Brooks, "Why The 'Hamilton' Cast's Trip To The WH Was So Important".
"But the really revolutionary part of Miranda and his dapper blue suit making waves in the the White House Cabinet Room? The fact that Obama's administration was honoring the importance of the arts -- and arts education -- in such a momentous and public way."
It isn't the first time. In hosting the Turnaround Arts program, President Obama said,
"The arts are central to who we are as a people, and they are central to the success of our kids. This is not an afterthought," he said. "This is not something you do because it's kind of nice to do. It is necessary for these young people to succeed that we promote the arts."
The play's the thing. And not just this kind of play, but play itself. Take a look at this article by Lucy Ward about the role of play in the education of young children. (The Guardian) Entitled "Children Should Learn Mainly Through Play Until Age of Eight, Says Lego", it highlights a move in England to value play as a mode of learning. Lest you think from the title that it's all about selling more Lego bricks, it isn't. My favorite quote:
If parents and governments push children towards numeracy and literacy earlier and earlier, it means they miss out on the early play-based learning that helps to develop creativity, problem-solving and empathy, she says.
Creativity, problem-solving, and empathy. These are key ingredients in any field of study, in any career, in any life. This does not mean that play-based learning or arts education are necessarily superior to everything else out there, but it does mean they are necessary components that make all other kinds of learning function better. We reduce and/or eliminate them at our peril.
Consider our current political situation. Imagine what it would be like if we, as a nation, had been making a long-term investment in creativity, problem-solving, and empathy. Mind-boggling, isn't it?