All Arts Council of Franklin County
Essay of the Month


by Steven H. Jackson
Bakersfield, Vermont

      Some individual students in school choose to wear clothing and express themselves in ways that, to the majority of people, seem downright weird. These students are made fun of and don't fit in with the majority of the students. They don't care to participate in group sports and instead are drawn toward more creative pursuits such as drama club, computers, and fantasy. These "freaks," as they are called by the "jocks," form their own social groups and spend much of their time thinking of ways to annoy the jocks and shock everyone else because as they see it "life sucks."
      Throughout time there have been people like the freaks. Sometimes they were called prophets, artists, innovators, inventors, and geniuses. Other times they were called witches, murderers, dictators and madmen. No one knows why some people have a different kind of creative intellect than the average person. Many of mankind's great accomplishments, as well as the most nightmarish atrocities, have come from people who had unusually creative minds.
      It is the responsibility of our public schools to develop and educate the creative minds of our children. The visual arts program, a creative writing course, and Band are the only courses at our high school that deal with this aspect of education. The visual arts program must be under funded or I am sure I would see more community involvement in the display of student artwork. In fact, I can't remember the last time I saw a display of student artwork out in the community. How about an auction of student work to benefit some charity, or the local newspaper featuring student art work, or the local radio station giving some time to advertise a showing of student work. Or how about some space being set up on Main Street for a student gallery. How about some of the prominent businesses in town then purchasing the artwork and displaying it publicly. The sports programs have all of this and more; a lot more.
      The Band does a good job and the kids really like being in it. But have you ever noticed that the teacher chooses nearly all of the music and that none of it is original music? The kids just practice pieces written by some famous composer. I never hear any original student music. I guess they don't know how to write music. I wonder why. Playing someone else's music, though entertaining, does not exercise a student's ability to think creatively, be innovative, or express himself in nearly the same way that performing his own original piece does.
      All students need to learn how to express their ideas, feelings and emotions in ways that are socially acceptable. These skills must be taught. The visual arts are a way to do this. So is publishing a newspaper, or writing and performing music, or creating a play, or speaking before a group, or designing clothing, or making web pages for the internet. Students who behave in bizarre ways are trying to express themselves. Because the community has chosen not to develop socially acceptable ways to enable and encourage them to do this, students often choose to express themselves in ways that are inappropriate.
      A school curriculum that encourages individuality of thought and creativity and supports and encourages original thinking and innovation is necessary if students, not just troubled students, but all students, are to learn to think and express themselves in socially acceptable and productive ways. While our educational systems seek to prepare people for work in industry, professions, and services, I wonder where the innovators, inventors, artists, writers, entertainers, and leaders of the future will come from.

Copyright (c) Steven H. Jackson, 1999

Comments? email us

Go to [Dick Harper | All Arts Index]

      This article was originally published by the All Arts Council of Franklin County. It is Copyright © 1998-2001 by the AAC and the individual authors. All rights reserved.
      Archival material is provided as-is. Links are not necessarily maintained (if a link in this article fails, try or your favorite search engine).
      Thanks to recent misuse of copyright material on the Internet by individuals and archival firms alike, we emphasize that your rights to this article are limited to viewing it and printing it for personal use only. You must receive explicit permission from the All Arts Council and the author before reprinting or redistributing this article in any medium.