“Unused creativity is not benign. It metastasizes. It turns into grief, rage, judgement, sorrow, shame.”
So says researcher and storyteller Brené Brown. And I believe her, because my experience has been a gradual but consistent rise in anxiety and depression in the high school students I see.
Make no mistake, this is happening everywhere. This is the fallout of a culture focused on test results, ever-increasing college-prep work, and a steady decrease in arts education at every level.
In 2011-12, Michigan Youth Arts conducted a large statewide survey of arts education. Here are some of the findings.
- 108,000 Michigan students attend school each day without arts education.
- The yearly spending for arts education averages statewide to $4.39/student in high school. In elementary school, it’s $1.67.
- To help foster arts education, the Michigan graduation requirements include a mandated single credit in the arts. 12% of Michigan high schools do not meet this requirement.
Wise and learned people from every walk of life acknowledge that the arts are of prime importance to human beings: socially, emotionally, creatively, intellectually.
Until we can take that wisdom and put it into action – until we have schools that enable all students to express their innate creativity – it’s going to keep getting harder for these precious kids to leave school intact.