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1/20/2008
A World Without Art
I can't remember when I first became aware of "art" as a medium for emotional expression. It's just always been there. So putting thoughts about that emotional expression into words is always difficult for me.

Julie's Hump Day Hmmm for this week (yes, I'm late) tackles this tough subject:
Tell us about what the arts (music, dance, art, etc.) mean to you and what you think the effect of de-emphasizing it in schools means for the kids, the community, the culture and the future.
Art has always been important to my life, even though I am not an artist. I earn my livelihood with the left side of my brain. Reason and logic are my touchstones.

But... Some of the greatest analytical minds are also creative. Important inventions and new ideas are part of what psychologist David Perkins calls "breakthrough thinking." David Perkins' research supports the idea that the ability for your mind to have "eureka" or breakthrough moments in problem solving can be enhanced and developed through study of the arts. Something about art and music triggers creative thinking.

I've experienced this first hand. As a child I played the violin and took drama classes. My mother introduced me to famous artists. My parents took us to museums, the ballet, the symphony, and the theater. I didn't realize it at the time, but they were setting the groundwork for my later studies in math, science and computers. While my mind lends itself to the analytical fields, creativity is essential.

Take the law, for example. What most people don't realize is that a law suit is rarely won in front of a judge or jury. By the time a case gets to trial, there are very few surprises. There are rarely Perry Mason moments. An unexpected witness hardly ever appears. The important legal issues, those that determine whether a case can be supported based on statute or the common law, have already been determined.

The legal issues? This is where the case is usually decided. And it usually happens at the very beginning, when the lawyers involved develop a litigation strategy and the legal theory of the case. Once the strategy is developed, much of litigation involves the written word. Discovery is carefully crafted, the words in each motion deliberately drafted. Some of it is very routine.

But... While much of what I do is highly analytical, a touch of the genius never hurts. There are times when creativity is essential. The high points of my career, the moments I remember with pride, all involve creative arguments. Looking at a case, a contract, a legal theory in a different way can be the difference between losing and winning a motion for summary judgment and ultimately determine who wins or loses. What separates the brilliant lawyer from the good lawyer is this creative thinking and the ability to express it through words and language. Can anyone tell me that this isn't, in its own way, an art?

Schools have been cutting back arts education since I was a child. Do they even teach art appreciation in elementary schools anymore? These cuts are usually budget driven, with the idea that something must go and that art is less important than the three R's. But eliminating art and, consequently, the only outlet some children have for artistic and creative expression is short sighted.

I don't doubt that creativity, logic, analysis, and an appreciation of art are all related. Much in the way that mathematics and music have been shown to be inextricably linked, I am convinced that art can only help creative thinking.

Creative thinking.

Creative thinking is essential to the development of the human race and our society. The wheel, planting crops, developing the written word, the printing press, vaccines, the theory of relativity, trips to the moon, and computers. Our world is based on creative thinking, originality, and, yes, art.

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9 Comments:

Blogger Tara said...

I SO agree... art is vital.

OpenID wheelsonthebus said...
Blogger flutter said...

For me, without art, there is very little worth living for.

Blogger slouching mom said...

Perfectly stated.

Blogger Mamma said...

Indeed.

In addition, there are many people who learn differently, and while they may not express their genius through the three Rs they may in an artistic venue. Without an outlet, will that genius ever be discovered?

Blogger ewe are here said...

Thank you for this.

Really. Thank you.

Blogger Joker The Lurcher said...

my friend (now a judge) and i were just talking about this very thing yesterday over breakfast - how law is one of the most creative professions you can go into. i'll ping her this link - you put it so well!

Blogger Alpha DogMa said...

I think that we do our children such a disservice by thinking disparagingly of art and assessing the value of education simply as skills that can be easily quantified. I mourn the loss of arts -- and phys. ed -- in our schools.

Blogger Julie Pippert said...

BRAVO!

I don't care that you're late...this is such a fabulous argument for arts education I'm just glad you did it.

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