Welcome to your semi-annual reminder that arts education is good for everyone. Today’s example merits a HoCo Holler! From the Howard County Schools website:
Hammond High School senior Mohamed Elhassan has received numerous national and international accolades for his poetry and artwork. Notably, he’s proud of his poem, “We Ask to Not Be Black,” which earned him a silver national medal from the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards and is being considered for the organization’s anthology. Elhassan’s illustration, “And Mama Keeps ’Em Growing,” was selected for the cover of international literary journal, Waxwing.
I think we’d all agree that this is an admirable achievement and cause for celebration. What jumped out at me was the information that Elhassan intends to pursue a career in the sciences.
In the long run, Elhassan hopes to make an impact as a physician and scientist.
I continue to bump into people who think that arts education is a waste because you can’t make any money in arts fields. But Elhassan’s story is yet another reminder that arts education is a healthy part of an educationally balanced diet, if you will.
The arts are not “separate from”. They are inextricably “linked with” our other learning experiences. Arts Education is the oxygen which allows the strictly cognitive paper and pencil work to "breathe" into the student and be meaningfully retained, the leavening which allows the learning process to rise, the glue that makes the learning stick. (“Making it Stick”, November 2020.)
As the pandemic winds down and we return to face-to-face learning, I am becoming concerned by all the talk of “learning loss” and people who hold forth on the need to “remediate.” Almost always when the conversation turns in this direction it begins to lean heavily on test results, skill and drill, content delivery, and what people like to call “core subjects”.
Guess what usually happens to arts education?
It gets brushed aside as “nonessential” by those whose focus is on test scores. And nothing could be more counterproductive and unhealthy for our students.
Devaluing Arts Education doesn’t make STEM programs stronger. In fact, the inclusion of Arts Education provides students with vital creative and problem-solving experiences. Arts Education in combination with other STEM learning provides a kind of “leavening” that promotes deeper learning all around. They’re better together. (“Making it Stick”)
But you don’t have to take my word for it.
No matter what the future holds, he plans to continue with the arts. Elhassan said, “I’m an amalgamation of my experiences at Howard County, and whatever I do—STEM or artwork—I take them with me. My goal is to put out my thoughts for people to see. It keeps me going.”
A big HoCo Holler for Mohamed Elhassan and Arts Education programs in Howard County.