This link is to a comment by my friend and some-times mentor, Senator Tom Banks. It is an insightful comment that arts education is core to competence - not a frill. Senator Banks frames the role of the arts in a high performance public education system very well. The need for the arts and creativity is especially true as we move through the Information Age into the Conceptual Age.
We need a critically-thinking engaged citizenship that is concurrently global and local in perspective and that means culture matters, especially as part of our public education system. Budget pressures and restraints, standardized testings of narrow and shallow education outcomes plus market driven models creating private competition for public education has driven creativity and arts out of the systems.
Save Our Fine Arts (SOFA - follow them on Twitter and track them at #sofab) is a citizen's based group focused on restoring and restating arts education as core to curriculum in our public education in Alberta. This is lead by a group of citizens with energy and enthusiasm and the leadership of Bill Campbell
Alberta's public education system is one a recognized high performance system all around the world. But like any local prophet, it is too often taken for granted. The seeds of our failure are often planted in the times of our success because we rest on laurels. I sometimes fear for this in Alberta's public education system.
There are however some significant inspiring actions and ideas coming out of Minister Dave Hancock's transformation initiative "Inspiring Education." There is lots of meat in that effort but it is not gong to achieve its potential as a top down authority driven command and control government program. It is going to be successful if it comes from the community, citizens, employers, teachers, parents, and especially students.
SOFA is a perfect example of this kind of community based efforts to help advance the transformation of public education for a 21st century reality. Another citizen's based group that is setting out to help transform public education is Creative Alberta lead by Dr. Haley Simons. She has been organizing and conceptualizing abouts arts in education and looking at positioning our province as a center of creativity and innovation. She is getting us linked to other high performance communities and regions around the world who are on the same journey.
Please visit SOFA and join them in their quest. Keep tracking them and #creativealberta on Twitter and share the information and insights with you friends. Our province is positioned to move beyond the Alberta Advantage and into the Alberta Aspiration. It is no longer game of pushing a society of consumptive competition with a slogan of being the best in the world. Success for the next Alberta narrative has to inspire our aspirations to be the best for the world. We are up to that goal and I think it is an idea who's time has come...let me know your thoughts on what we can do to be the best for the world given all our blessings and benefits.