I have great grandchildren and I worry about their future. What kind of world will they know and the millions of children of preschool and school age of every race and nation. What of the future for humankind? The planet is facing environmental collapse, endless sectarian wars, and a democratic governance that is losing ground. If we survive will it be the Garden of Eden or the back side of the moon? A world-wide democracy patterned, say, after Denmark or Hitler’s thousand year nightmare? We are aware of the frightening possibilities, but finding a remedy is the challenge.
If we drift, the outcome will be cataclysmic; if we are to survive with our values intact, we must act now. It no longer seems foolishly utopian to say that we in the arts community can play an important role. The outcome we need and desire requires a massive change in human consciousness and that is what we habitually do.
We invite teachers and advocates of all art forms – music, dance, drama, literacy, visual arts – to get behind a single reform in schooling, one which is long overdue, but which now, in our awareness of the existential crisis alluded to, can no longer be ignored. The reform we have in mind is contained in a single sentence: to prepare human consciousness for the crises we face, the curriculum for children and young people, preschool to high school graduation, will give equal time and emphasis to fine arts subjects (music, dance, drama, literacy, drawing and visual arts) as to STEM subjects (science, technology, engineering and math).
The Drawing Network is currently working on a book which will be devoted to this theme. Its title is deliberately provocative, CHILDREN MAKE ART AND SAVE THE PLANET. Its format is a scrapbook of philosophical responses, psychological truths and practical suggestions for integrating the arts into the daily lives of children and young people and into a reformed home and school curriculum in which the two solitudes can be conjoined to create a curriculum for the future. You are invited to contribute!
We are not proposing a new organization at this point but as the Drawing Network has now had 25 years of informal advocacy within the most casual of structures, I would be happy to perform any coordinating function that is felt to be needed.
I write on the first day of 2014. Let’s make this the year when the arts became as import as STEM!
Bob Steele, Associate Professor (Emeritus) UBC for the Drawing Network
3853 West 15th Ave. Vancouver, BC Canada V6R 3A1