As learners ourselves, we have been recently deluged with a myriad of opportunities to pursue higher educational goals in the form of Ph.D. programs. By its very nature, a Ph.D. is a terminal degree in the philosophy of a particular content area. However, more and more for-profit universities and colleges are shifting their focuses in these realms to career specific knowledge and skills.
Perhaps there is something for K-12 education to learn from this particular perspective.
With the increased emphasis on student achievement as measured by standardized tests, the need for Humanities and Arts departments in the K-12 spectrum to understand what these for-profit schools have realized is relevant. Instead of arguing for the necessity of Arts and Humanities education when discussions of budget cuts arise, it is time we show it.
The goal of Arts and Humanities education is not necessarily to pump out artists. This is a rare and celebrated achievement, but for the most part it is not an outcome which can be banked upon. Yet, the knowledge, skills, and experiences which Arts and Humanities education provide for students is invaluable.
Some of these include the obvious critical and creative thinking skills, but also the ability to perceive other perspectives and embrace something unknown is priceless. This is the fertile ground which innovation is cultivated.
Without a doubt, there is a certain body of rudimentary body of knowledge within the specific disciplines in the Humanities and Arts that is required. Yet, focusing more on applying this small body in order to revive and cultivate the Arts and Humanities is far more important that arguing over the canon, or even the necessity of this form of education.
In other words, it is time for those of us teaching in the humanities and Arts to show the worth instead of constantly decrying the continuing erosion of budget and seemingly public importance. Perhaps it’s high time for us on the proverbial other side of the desk practice some of the advice we give out students…
“Show, don’t tell.”