Across the Universe and NCLB

October 23, 2007 at 8:38 pm Leave a comment

I recently went to see the movie “Across the Universe.”  If anyone needs proof that music and the visual arts can transport your state of consciousness to another realm, one should see this movie. 

Some critics have given the movie a low rating, stating that the pieces don’t fit together, that the music seems out of place, and that the story is disjointed.  And if you view the movie analytically, as critics tend to do, then maybe I would agree with their assessment.  However, if you go to this movie for an experience, and not to “understand” it, I believe it can be as good as a two hour meditation.

When I reflected later on my experience and my interpretation of this experience, I began to recall again the meaning of art to our culture, how music becomes the soundtrack of our lives, how art can quickly evoke emotions and states of being, that the role of art and teaching its importance to our children is extremely important.

At times one can get caught up in the trap of believing cognitive development is the only one of importance.  And with the way that No Child Left Behind (NCLB) is being administered in a vast number of schools, one can see its impact.  An unintended consequence of NCLB is then this tendency to overemphasize the cognitive line at the expense of creativity.  This is not to say that the cognitive line of development is not of great importance, it is, and is necessary for most all other lines of development.  However, this emphasis at the expense of the other “intelligences” (see Howard Gardner’s work) will result in a generation that knows little or nothing of creativity and innovation.  I recently heard that this past decade (NCLB was passed seven years ago) is the first decade in our history in which the overall level of U.S. intelligence, has dropped rather than increased.

NCLB’s goal to improve education by holding the teachers responsible for outcomes is good, but the methods being employed when coming from a national centralized bureaucracy, will continue to fail.  This goal can be set, but the methods must be developed locally if they are to be successful.  Until then, parents will continue to choose educational alternatives to see that their children are given the opportunity to not just memorize facts, but to understand, to apply concepts, and to develop their capacity to create a better world.

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Entry filed under: Education, Parenting. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , .

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