Tuesday, March 29, 2011

A Well Rounded Education

Since 1867, education has been deemed mandatory for all children in the county through the Department of Education. Since that time the department and the laws governing education have changed a bit. But our country still offers “free” education for children between the ages of 5 to 18, public education. Our local school boards dictate what the curriculum will be within the parameters of the law, meaning that all children get the basics overseen by the federal government.

For the most part, education in this county has done the job. According the Wikipedia, the country has a reading literacy rate at 99% of the population over age 15, while ranking below average in science and mathematics understanding compared to other developed countries. In 2008, there was a 77% graduation rate from high school, below that of most developed countries. These statistics have caused many a politician to expound on the need for a quality education for our youth and tout their ideas on how to get that learning are as different as snowflakes.

There has also been much discussion about the type of curricula that our children should have. Greater emphasis has recently been place on math and science recently, primarily because of the scores on the standardized tests and competition with other countries for those disciplines. However, not much attention has been paid to the humanities, and to my knowledge there are no federal guidelines surrounding how much or how little art and music should be included in subjects taught.

Few people believe there is a strong correlation between the study of music and the discipline of math and science, and I am sure that many would be surprised to learn that such a connection exists. But there is a strong relation and if more people knew about it, there might be more of an emphasis to including the humanities in school. A study was done in 2009 that shows that music participation, such as music lessons taken in or out of school or even listening to classical music attending concerts, has a positive effect on reading and mathematics in early childhood and adolescence. This study should pave the way to including a more well-rounded education that will improve the overall scores in math and science, while at the same time providing a method that helps a child improve their self esteem and just might encourage them to stay in school.

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