Kevin Pearson: Arts Education Testimonial
As a vocal music teacher in Tulsa Public Schools, I see the many, many ways music – and the arts, in general – impact my students. First, let me tell you that my school is one of the most ethnically and demographically diverse schools in the State of Oklahoma. Our students come from impoverished homes (we are a 100% free lunch school) and face trials that most of us will never experience – abuse, drugs, poverty, apathy, loneliness, gang violence, and teenage pregnancy, among others. Despite all of these tremendous obstacles in their lives, I see my students yearn for something more.
More than once a child has told me that the only reason he or she got out of bed that morning was to come to chorus. More than once a child has expressed to me his or her deepest desires, fears, and vulnerabilities – all because he or she made a connection with the artistry in my class.
My students create. They read music. They learn to speak that foreign language. They calculate. They discover. They express. They tap into their physical, intellectual, and creative cores. My students do not leave my class just having sung. My students leave my classroom as musicians. They leave my classroom as contributors to a greater society.
As artists and arts educators, we must preach the purposes and benefits of our craft. However, we must be able to prove it. Showcase our students. Showcase their achievements. We must tap into the resources available. People support the arts. Trust me. We just have to find out exactly how much – and utilize that support. We must band together as advocates to spread our gospel. As budgets are slashed and programs are cut, it is more imperative than ever that our voice be heard. And a collective voice is always much, much louder than the individual. We must be collective. We must speak up. We must advocate.