It occurs to me that ever since the Russians beat us into space with Sputnik in 1957, and also whenever our children's test scores are seen to be below their peers' in Taiwan, Switzerland or God knows where, we have the same knee-jerk reaction: We propose to cram more of the same (reading, writing and arithmetic) down their throats without much thought as to why it isn't working in the first place.
The real answer is right in front of us, is counterintuitive and is hinted at in "Tune Time" [Nov. 1]: more arts education at all age levels.
Why arts education? Because, like a three-legged stool, all of the information from our world comes to us through three symbol systems: mathematical, linguistic and artistic. The first two legs are amply represented in the education we see fit to give our children in public schools, but the third leg of the stool, training in the many artistic symbol systems, is spotty.
These artistic symbol systems support and reflect a wide array of human activity and include things like instructions for knitting a sweater, the score of a symphony, a map, an engineering or architectural drawing, a painting, a sculpture or a photograph, a choreographer's instructions. . . .
More math, more science, more reading, more writing has been proposed once again. Once again, it probably won' work--until students are inspired to learn by their engagement in the arts.