In class last week, we had a group discussion regarding the implications of increasing the focus and importance of science and math. This is a very interesting topic to discuss critically because if we are to increase one portion of the curriculum, another area will have to be decreased OR students will need to spend more years in school. If we require students to take more years of schooling to cover all necessary material, costs will increase, which is perhaps not the best option. On the other hand, taking another area of study and decreasing the time spent on it has implications of its own. It seems that the field of science is often given more importance than other subject areas. This is even true in University. An individual getting a science degree rarely gets questioned but when completing a history or dramatic arts degree for example, the individual often will hear “well, what are you going to do with that?”
If science and math are given the highest importance, it is likely that the humanities and fine arts will become increasingly less important and will have less time and money devoted to them. I strongly disagree with placing the importance of math and science ahead of the humanities and fine arts. These subjects are just as important as math and science. Although math and science are more “universal” than a language arts course, the skills learned in English class are definitely of equal importance. An article titled “New Studies a Cause of Concern: Literacy Levels Low” written by Sherri Gallant in the Lethbridge Herald from September 9, 2009 reads, “in southern Alberta, more than half of the adults (16 and up) are functionally illiterate; at level two or lower on a literacy scale of one to five (five being the most literate).” This article shows how important language arts classes can be and perhaps more time should be spent there. On the other hand, it is clear that Language Arts appears to be becoming less important with the increase of technology. For example: most spelling and grammar can be corrected for you, handwriting is out, the availability of audio versions of most books, etc. In any case, language is very important and should be placed on the same level as science. In addition, Social Studies is becoming so important in classrooms – especially with the curriculum changes. As a Social Studies Major, I was able to teach two units on the subject to Grade 2 and Grade 9 students – both new curriculum versions. The subject is very applicable to real life and I feel it is so important for people to understand the implications of current events, think critically about events, and have some knowledge of how their government is run.
The Humanities are not always considered less important, however, fine arts are often given the lowest level of importance. Drama, art and music are so important for many areas of development and should be given a very high importance. As mentioned in class, some parents would argue that these activities could be saved for outside of school. However, many families are not able to pay for music lessons and rely on music and band in school for their children. In addition, every student is unique and will automatically excel at and enjoy different subjects. It is unfair that even at a young age we are essentially expressing that being involved in art, music or drama is not as important as being able to do calculus.
To close, I have attached the link for a really interesting article I used for an assignment for a summer course I was in. In “The Role of Artistic Play in Problem Solving” by Eliza Pitra, the importance encouraging the arts, particularly in early childhood, is expressed.
Article can be found through JSTOR at http://www.jstor.org/pss/3193924
Gallant, S. (2009). New studies a cause for concern: Literacy levels low. Lethbridge Herald, September 9, 2009.