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Without the Arts, It's Not Education

Creativity expert Sir Ken Robinson says that without the arts, our schools simply teach kids conformity and compliance.


Earlier this spring Secretary of Education Arne Duncan wrote that "dance, music, theater, and visual arts" are essential to preparing our nation's young people for a global economy fueled by innovation and creativity." That may be the case, but thanks to education funding cuts, the arts are being systematically stripped from our schools. According to creativity expert Sir Ken Robinson, what's left can hardly be called an education.

"We may be providing something else, but it's not what we want to think of as education," Robinson told attendees at the recent Action Children's Art Conference in the U.K. Instead, says Robinson, our children are growing up in a fast-paced world "that's becoming more standardized," which means kids "live within education cultures that are more prone to testing, to conformity, and to compliance than ever before."


Indeed, what Robinson advocates for "are opportunities for self exploration" and the ability for "young people to explore the range of their own imaginations." Because the arts are intimately connected to our emotions, students also need a chance "to explore the depths of their own feelings and their connections to other people."

Without the connection to our emotions that music, dance, visual art, and drama provide, students' ability to cultivate their right-brain "soft skills" ends up being stunted. In a global society that needs people with the emotional intelligence to have both personal and working relationships with people from diverse cultures—and the ability to think creatively and entrepreneurially—that means denying kids access to the arts has less-than-desirable consequences.

It's not too late to get on the right track though, says Robinson, if we support a robust, child centered arts program in our schools, and if arts organizations in our community—the local ballet or symphony, for example—also develop programs specifically for students.

Photo via (cc) Flickr user fotologic

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But for years, the company has faced boycotts for supporting anti-LGBT charities, including the Salvation Army, the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, and the Paul Anderson Youth Home.

The Salvation Army faced criticism after a leader in the organization implied that gay people "deserve to die" and the company also came under fire after refusing to offer same-sex couples health insurance. But the organization swears it's evolving on such issues.

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The Paul Anderson Youth Home teaches boys that homosexuality is wrong and that same-sex marriage is "rage against Jesus Christ and His values."

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In 2012, Chick-fil-A's CEO, Dan Cathy, made anti same-sex marriage comments on a radio broadcast:

I think we are inviting God's judgment on our nation when we shake our fist at Him and say, "We know better than you as to what constitutes a marriage". I pray God's mercy on our generation that has such a prideful, arrogant attitude to think that we have the audacity to define what marriage is about.

But the chicken giant has now decided to change it's says its charitable donation strategy because it's bad for business...Not because being homophobic is wrong.

The company recently lost several bids to provide concessions in U.S. airports. A pop-up shop in England was told it would not be renewed after eight days following LGBTQ protests.

Chick-fil-A also has plans to expand to Boston, Massachusetts where its mayor, Thomas Menino, pledged to ban the restaurant from the city.

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"There's no question we know that, as we go into new markets, we need to be clear about who we are," Chick-fil-A President and Chief Operating Officer Tim Tassopoulos told Bisnow. "There are lots of articles and newscasts about Chick-fil-A, and we thought we needed to be clear about our message."

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"If Chick-Fil-A is serious about their pledge to stop holding hands with divisive anti-LGBTQ activists, then further transparency is needed regarding their deep ties to organizations like Focus on the Family, which exist purely to harm LGBTQ people and families," Drew Anderson, GLAAD's director of campaigns and rapid response, said in a statement.

Chick-fil-A's decision to back down from contributing to anti-LGBT charities shows the power that people have to fight back against companies by hitting them where it really hurts — the pocket book.

The question remains: If you previously avoided Chick-fil-A because it supported anti-LGBT organizations, is it now OK to eat there? Especially when Popeye's chicken sandwich is so good people will kill for it?

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