!nsp!re – ARTS EDUCATION WEEK: Personally Speaking

In celebration of California Arts Education Week (Sep 8-14), this week’s posts will all focus on arts education.

I absolutely believe that we must raise the next generation to be educated, thoughtful, and well-rounded. That belief is firmly rooted in what the arts did for me personally.

The only classes I responded to in elementary school were art and English (creative writing). None of the other classes resonated. I was a shy, zit-faced little dude who just wanted to be left alone in my room (painted black, natch) with my stereo, my sketchpad, and a few books. Oddly enough, I was a fine student and actually made mostly good grades; I just wasn’t interested in anything apart from creative work. As I got into high school, I stayed in art class; and through friends, was introduced to theater. Theater opened up my perspective and bonded my love of art to something very tangible – theatrical design.

But even then, I never really considered it a career option. While many of my friends were thinking about “real” careers and jobs, I was somewhat lost. All I wanted to do was create – to make something beautiful from nothing.

All through that early part of my life, the arts kept my mind and hands busy (which kept me, mostly, out of trouble). They transformed my social awkwardness by encouraging me to socially engage with others. They taught me that while one can create alone; it’s WAY more fun to create with other people. They provided me with a direction that I decided to pursue as a career – and then gave me the tools to do it. The arts have done all of those things and far more for many of my friends and so many of the students I speak with on a regular basis.

I don’t want to imagine what my life would have been like had I not been exposed, at an early age, to the things that would mold who I have become. I don’t need to read the growing mountain of arts education studies to understand the reasons why the arts are important. I know the reasons to be true because they informed and changed my life.

For more information California Arts In Education Week, click here to visit the California Arts Council.