Sunday, November 6, 2011
What Does Creativity Have to do With Knowledge Anyway?
The “Executive Summary” of the President’s Committee on the Arts and Humanities (PCAH) May 2011 report Reinvesting in Arts Education: Winning America’s Future Through Creative Schools states that “in October of 2008, then-Senator Obama released a powerful Platform in Support of the Arts. In it he argued for reinvesting in American arts education, and reinvigorating the creativity and innovation that has made this country great” (p. v). In the “Forward” of this same report, Arne Duncan posits “Education in the arts is more important than ever. In the global economy, creativity is essential. Today’s workers need more than just skills and knowledge to be productive and innovative participants in the workforce” (p. 1). If art and creativity is essential in a global economy, why is it excluded from current American schooling and what is needed so that this reinvestment becomes an actuality?
Perhaps the answer can be found when a blatant absence of arts-based educational research is realized. With an assessment-outcome focus on reading and math, creativity becomes victimized by tensions that are driven by structured, standardized mandates quantifiably measured with no wiggle-room for the artistic. Ravitch (2010) noted that a result of NCLB was that “test scores became an obsession. Many school districts invested heavily in test-preparation materials and activities. Test-taking skills and strategies took precedence over knowledge” (p. 107).
With a new direction of post-secondary success, it is perplexing and frustrating that an administration and its Secretary of Education understands the need to include the arts in a curriculum design, but is preventing its inclusion. “What counts as knowledge depends on perspective, time, interest, method, and form of representation. What has been recognized – a lesson the arts teach – is that the choice of an approach to the study of the world is also what one looks for and is able to see” (Eisner, 2002, p. 215).