School doesn't give artistic students what they need

By Cheryl Watts
Cole Harbour Regional High School
Dartmouth, Nova Scotia

  As I reach the home stretch toward graduation, I realize how poor a job high school did preparing me for the future. After graduation, I plan on attending Nova Scotia College of Art and Design. I have taken art class every year in high school and my average is ninety-eight percent. So basically, even though I plan on enrolling in a fine arts program, the one course that high school offers to prepare me for the university I plan to attend, is not considered a university preparatory course.

This leads me to my main question, "Who is the person in the head office who gets to decide what courses are mandatory, and which courses will better prepare students for their future?" One can only assume that this person is not artistically or intellectually inclined, based on the pure fact that he/she is not open minded enough to recognize art as an important career path.

Fortunately, not everyone leaving high school will be attending Dalhousie, St. Mary's, or Mount Saint Vincent. Not everyone will grow up to be doctors, lawyers, or teachers. Who is to say that one career path is more or less valuable than another? I feel it is important to have mandatory requirements for graduation. I also feel the education system, of all things, should be open to all career paths, not just the popular ones, and should offer sufficient classes and support to better prepare all students for life, not just the mathematically, and scientifically inclined.

Teachers often wonder why some students are not interested, and do not do well in school. I think it's time to re-evaluate. Maybe it's not the students at all. Maybe it's that the system, and curriculum they are forced into, doesn't meet their personal needs. Maybe it's the style of teaching that they are bored with. Students are forced to conform to learn what some person in an office thinks will better prepare them for life. I think it is wonderful that some students need these courses, and plan on becoming distinguished bankers and doctors but what about the rest of the population? What about the intellectuals? Why must the colorful people suffer because they have more to offer than mathematical equations? Is our future less important and our professions less dignified? Do we not have just as much, if not more, to offer the world?

I feel high school has done an awful job preparing me for the outside world. I feel that there should be special programs for aspiring artists that offer a wider variety of options. There should be more experiential education and less lecture, more hands-on work instead of listening to a teacher preach from a text book.

We have been learning the same history classes since elementary school. The education system is so busy creating math-loving, note-copying droids, that it leaves no room for originality, intellectuality, and individuality. There is no room for creativity and self expression. Aren't these the qualities and skills you need to possess and practice to prepare yourself for life in the real world? If so, why am I being discriminated against for wanting to become an artist?

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