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LJWorld.com weblogs In the Dark

Case of the Missing Classes, Ep. 1

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Episode the First: Junior High Enrollment Days! This past week, Little Madison and Lanky Spencer brought home their enrollment catalogs and forms for their next exciting school year. Little Madison and Lanky Spencer want to branch out from the visual art, vocal music, and band or orchestra classes they have taken and want to try a new performing art drama! You strongly support this endeavor because you have read the report from the U.S. Department of Labor that says the arts are "as important for certain "foundation" skills which include thinking creatively, problem solving, exercising individualresponsibility, sociability and self-esteem." (1) You also know the statistic that says the art industry is "an industry that providessubstantial employment opportunities, about 1.3 million jobs per year, a fact sometimes overlooked by educators. The economic dimensions of the nonprofit arts sector are extensive at $36 billion. It jumps to $314 billion when the commercial arts sector is added." (2)Awww, heck:you took drama in junior high and had a lot of fun! But:neither they nor you can find any mention of drama classes in the fine arts or performing arts section of the course description book. In fact, you can't recall any recent mention of drama under fine arts in those nifty special sections about the public schools with all the smiling pictures the newspaper prints out a couple times a year.Strange, you think, because you know there are both a drama program and a drama teacher at your neighborhood junior high. Did they leave the class out of the catalog? You frantically search the catalog to no avail. Then you decide to see what will be taught in English class next year and skim through the language arts section to discover:(insert trumpet fanfare here ): some courses titled "Exploring Interpretive Literature" and "Experiencing Interpretive Literature." Little Madison and Lanky Spencer groan and beg not to be enrolled in another literature class on top of English and Young Adult Reading. You convince them to write one of them in, even as their last elective choice, because the course description sounds a lot like drama class to you. Then, burning with curiosity, you call the drama teacher at your neighborhood junior high to ask "What's up with that?"Next week's episode: The drama teacher wearily explains.Reports cited: 1.Secretary's Commission on Achieving Necessary Skills, U.S. Dept. of Labor, quoted from the 21st Century Learning Report at www.21stcenturyskills.org2. Arts in the Local Economy, National Assembly of Local Arts Agencies, 1994 1992 State of the Arts Report, National Endowment for the Arts

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