Advocates of the arts will always point out how students who are active in them do better in school. It is really no surprise when you break down the science of learning. Other school subjects no longer teach the skills needed to succeed at anything, instead they are focused on that subject and having enough of the students get by. The issue with the normal subjects is the way they are taught is not conducive to create students who think, but students who will be good workers. This isn’t because of teachers, but because of special interest and the federal government. So we will examine the process of learning the arts and why these programs are possibly the last to teach students to be more.
The first step of learning any arts is learning the grammar, be it the notes, how to hold a pencil (a declining talent), paintbrush techniques or how to hold your hands when using an instrument. The next step is to practice the basics until they are second nature. This takes practice, practice and practice until the basics our engrained into the mind, soul and body. Rules must be memorized and followed. The next step is to use the master’s work and copy it. If that is playing music that a great composer has played, or redrawing a great work or learning a Shakespeare play. After they master the basic skills, copy the masters they are then able to write their own plays, make their own music and draw originals.
This is the same process that classical education methods employ, first you must learn the grammar of the subject, then you must practice it by going to original documents and copying those, finally you use those experiences to express yourself. In math students are no longer required to memorize multiplication tables, you don’t need grammar to be a writer, and the sciences aren’t memorized until the mind has matured and is no longer in the memorization stage of development. No wonder we have fallen behind the world in the math and sciences.
The muse for this article can be found at educationnext.org