Saturday, December 22, 2018

Dead Poet Society

A university art professor in the Catholic Peace Weekly writes in the current affairs column on an assignment he gave the students to write about what they considered the best example of art education both at home and abroad. Reading the reports he was amazed since all the students had graduated from high schools in the humanities.

The professor went through all the papers and the overall impression was the students in high school felt a thirst for art that was never satisfied. Art and music were elective subjects. College entrance subjects such as Korean, English, mathematics pushed out the art subjects. They asked their teachers to make the art subjects more available but that was not possible because of college entrance preparations.

Hearing the voices of the students he was quick to make a club for those interested in music where they were involved in making a musical. In six months 20 of the students working together presented their musical which gave the professor a great thrill. He was overcome with emotion, after all, that is why they came to the art school.

There are many regular courses related to art. In the case of elementary school we have: 'joyful life', 'physical education', 'music' and 'art'; in middle schools: 'physical education', 'music' and 'art'; in high school: 'sports  for health', 'sports and culture', 'sports and science', 'music and life', 'music and career', 'art creation', and 'art culture'. Also, courses such as 'drama', 'movie', and 'literature' are included in many curriculums. However, these subjects have been lost due to entrance examinations; students are suffering from cognitive, emotional, and physical development due to lack of the arts.

The results of education in the arts are just too many to count. It develops harmoniously the body, intellect, and spirit. It greatly relieves stress, gives one confidence and self-esteem; develops independent thinking and problem-solving skills; develops communication and creative expression skills; leading to a larger world. Also, according to medical experts, art education is very helpful for improving cognition, emotional development, and empathy in adolescents. Abandoning education in the arts is like giving up on the future of students.

The professor reminds the readers of the movie 'Dead Poet Society'. The first scene is the entrance ceremony at a prestigious high school academy, in America. The calligraphy on the banner that was hoisted high at the ceremony was engraved with four lessons: 'tradition', 'honor', 'discipline' and 'be the best'. All teachers, along with the principal, teach according to these lessons for good order. However, Mr. Keating from this school teaches in a different way. He teaches that love and friendship are more important than Latin grammar. Students realize the meaning of "Carpe Diem" (enjoy the present life).

One of the students had a role in
A Midsummer Night's Dream.The audience applauded repeatedly. He was great in the role. However, the father was against his son taking time out of his studies to be in a play. He decided to transfer him to a military school. That night, the boy takes the father's hand gun from the desk drawer while his parents are sleeping and commits suicide. When the father sees his dead son, he wept uncontrollably over the body.  The cry is still ringing in the ears of the professor.

Schools should not take away students' dreams like the academy in the movie. Art education in schools should be essential, not optional. Schools should never become a 'dead poet society'.