Wednesday, October 27, 2010

P.S. Arts Express Yourself

One of my favorite Autumn events is coming up - the annual P.S. Arts Express Yourself.   P. S. Arts is an organization dedicated to putting creative arts programs into local public schools which would otherwise have none.  This is a cause I deeply believe in for two reasons. The first is that, for me, personal, creative expression is the essence of life. I want to give mine - I want to see yours. Stephen Sondheim wrote "children and art." That pretty much sums it up for me.


But the second reason I support P.S Arts is just as important. When I was a young student I didn't feel particularly smart. I wasn't very good at math, I was a poor and uninterested test-taker. Honestly I really just preferred to be left alone to read. If a teacher was able to capture my imagination with an interesting story I would engage in english or history class but otherwise, I am sorry to say, I managed to sit in the back and not get called on. Excepwhen it was time for music class, or our P E session was dance, or we were putting on a play.  Then - oh, then! - encouraged, talented and most of all reached -  I came alive.  It wasn't until I got to college that I realized - Hey,  it's not that I'm not smart - it's that these are the ways in which I am smart - and that I can use my ways to learn. I can apply my real interests, my interests in the arts, to all kinds of subjects.  Time to study American History? Look at paintings of the period - how did people dress? What were they pictured doing? How was the country pictured differently than the city? How did people express their values by the objects shown with them in paintings? And what can we learn from studying the music of a time? Not only what music people listened to but instruments they were able to hear.  Where did they come from? How were they made? What were their dances and festival celebrations, their rituals and feasts? These kinds of observations lead into discussions about class issues, gender expectations, labor and craftsmanship, tools, available woods, trade, travel routes, dangers for traders, war  - the list, the conversation, the learning goes on and on once you have initially engaged the child through the arts.   For many children, the arts are the hook into school, even into the world.  Listen, it's great to score well on a standardized test but that's not the only way of being smart and it shouldn't be the only chance kids get to feel smart. When we take the arts out of our schools we deprive many of our children of opportunities to feel intelligent.  Feeling intelligent means a kid will tune in - maybe even stay in - school.

So - we need the arts in our schools. But we all know what's happening. That's where a group like P.S. Arts comes in and it's where you come in too.  Click over to the P.S. Arts page and get your family tickets to the Express Yourself event on Sunday, November 7th at the Barker Hanger at Santa Monica Airport.  It's a fantastic day filled with arts and crafts, music, dancing and treats from some of our city's best restaurants.  The event is expensive - a family 4 pack is $650 plus $50 for each additional child. But if you can do it, I promise you and your kids will have a great time while contributing to a great cause.  If the event isn't for you please consider making a donation or checking out their store for really cute Holiday gifts.  I bet your child's teacher would love one of these cute tote bags -

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