A reminder that there are all shades of green, some of them not Eco at all. Via, this little meditation on, faced with school budget cutbacks that always, ALWAYS, get aimed at the art curriculum first, how we should teach art instead of history.
This general scenario matches up with other stories I’ve seen. But why should art be on the chopping block before history class? I believe we romanticize history, making it seem practically and ideally more important than it is. People defend history in the gauzy language of citizenship, with appeals that rarely rise above aphorism. “Those who don’t history are bound to repeat it”. This doesn’t hold up in a practical sense though. There’s a reason the phrase isn’t “those who have history as a significant part of their high school curriculum are bound to repeat it”. Being taught history doesn’t make you better voters unless you remember that history. I’m not going to go down the litany of things that huge percentage of Americans incorrectly believe about history, instead I’ll just give one prominent example. How many hundreds of millions of dollars to we spend each year teaching kids about the Civil War, and still 42% of people don’t know we fought it over slavery?
Sign me up. I would even say (but never write) that we would better off teaching (more) people about art. An example? a survey about the work of JL David will render the history of French Revolution unforgettable. And once you have The Death of Marat or The Tennis Court Oath in your head, along with the stories behind them, you’re only going to want to find out more. Moving through history on the basis of art movements is a more durable sort of engagement. Why the salons of the 1870’s happened or Goya’s dark paintings just doesn’t go away. That knowledge moves and grows into something else. Something we need.
And this is to say nothing of the benefits of people learning printmaking or drawing. It would be like mass producing the keys to critical thinking and problem solving. Then we can finally get back to that Shangra-La where no one locks their doors.