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Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Fine Arts Education

On Monday the Calgary Herald reported on "a growing movement of parents and teens concerned about proposed changes to how music, art, drama and dance is taught in Alberta schools."

Alberta Learning is proposing some fundamental changes to fine arts curriculum in the K-12 system, and many of these changes are being questioned by fine arts teachers, students and other stakeholders. I should note that so far Alberta Learning has only released a draft of proposed changes, and will in fact accept feedback on the changes. This being said, the fact that there seems to be a universal backlash from those directly affected by the changes would indicate to me that there was little (if any) consultation of the stakeholders in drafting the proposed changes.

There are several controversial aspects in the draft framework, but the general concern seems to be that an apparent push to integrate fine arts elements into other subjects will come at the expense of true skill development in these art forms. Or in other words, the arts are getting dumbed down.

The website has posted a facts sheet about these changes, noting both concerns with and positive aspects of the proposed framework, along with ways to get involved and to give feedback to Alberta Learning and MLAs. Whether or not you believe the changes to be positive or negative - or a little of both - it's an issue that deserves our attention. It's not quite as headline-grabbing as direct funding cuts to the arts or arts education, but it may in fact have a far greater effect on the future artists of Alberta.

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