The message expressed in the article by Sir Ken Robinson, addressing the need for schools to validate artistic expression, was in perfect stride with the shift in consciousness that I truly believe is starting to take place globally. Old paradigms are just not working and are (not surprisingly) failing to produce the results that today's society demands. There was one particular line in Robinson's article that spoke to this idea beautifully. He says, in reaction to the idea that our education system is predicated on the idea of academic ability as the truest expression of intelligence, "Our education system has mined our minds in the way that we strip-mine the earth: for a particular commodity. And for the future, it won't serve us." Just as we, as a unified planet, are finally starting to sit up and take notice that yes, indeed, fossil fuels will eventually run out and it might behoove us to rethink our energy strategies, we must be equally willing to rethink our educational strategies. Get rid of that which does not support the emerging paradigm and focus our attention on that which will. The last thing we need in the face of the daunting challenges we face today is a race of people afraid to take a chance for fear of being wrong.
There will be no argument from ANY elementary school teacher that the acquisition of literacy is critical and foundational, as it is the gateway to learning of all kinds. We absolutely must focus the majority of our resources on teaching children how to read and write. But in doing this, we must be very willing to expand our definition of literacy as it pertains to the medium of the day. As referenced in an earlier post regarding Jason Ohler's article, Orchestrating the Media Collage, in the 21st century, that medium is digital, thus involving literacy with not only text, but sound, graphics, and moving images as well. If we want our kids to have an education that prepares them for the future, then we best focus on supplying them with the tools they need to meet that future. People connect with one another through common experience. You learn of someone's experience when you hear their story. Let's give our students every means possible to tell their story.