Here is Howard Gardner's letter to the Editor in Today's New York Times with regard to New York city public schools cutting the arts. Particularly interesting is his last paragraph supporting the arts in education.
To the Editor:
The decision to cut arts courses and teachers at the junior high level in the New York City public schools is distressing to all who believe that the arts are indispensable for the human mind and spirit ("Basic Skills Forcing Cuts in Art Classes," news article, July 23).
A partial solution is to cease lumping the arts together. Just as students select one foreign language, and teachers present one science, students should focus on one art form - for example, dance, drama or painting. Specialists can then circulate among a small number of schools, ensuring that each student can deepen his or her knowledge and skill in one art form.
Such a measure would give students opportunities uniquely embodied in the arts: to access diverse ancient and contemporary cultures, deal with ambiguity, critique self and others, and express their deepest feelings in a medium in which they are comfortable - all experiences critical for the young adolescent.
Cambridge, Mass., July 23, 2003
The writer is a professor of cognition and education, Harvard Graduate School of Education.