by Andrew Koslosky KGCHS, Contributing Writer

It is becoming evident that as I get older, I am increasingly put in a position of elder spokesman for arts education, performing arts as it pertains to academic and social development.

I suppose with my past experience I should be honored to be thought of in such a way.  But I have to ask myself, if I accept this badge, would I be admitting that I am getting older?

Let me ponder this for a few moments….Am I ready to ad- mit I am older…Mature….Experienced?

In my own mind there are some wonderful advantages in thinking I am still young, despite the physical realities.  But there are also equal opportunities, for one who ages well.

But will I ever give in to it? I suppose this is a question we will all need to ponder someday.

One thing I am sure of…my years of experience allows me to give an educated opinion of the question that seems to be in need of an answer almost everywhere I visit.

How important is the arts in education? How important is the arts to our social development?

It is about time we recognized the importance of the arts in our lives and in our schools.  The most important reason for arts in schools and our communities is to enable social development.

Yes, it is very true that through the arts we can appreciate some of the most masterful moments achieved such as a Shakespearean play, Classical or modern music, a Phantom of the Opera, paintings from a Picasso or Michelangelo, etc. etc.  But the most important gift received is the ability to give our children sufficient skills so that they can express themselves with confidence, on the stage of life.

Arts Education is a tool in which we recognize and express deep and personal feelings, both in verbal and nonverbal form.

The importance of this development in our life is immeasurable.  Academics/knowledge without social development, without the ability to use what you have learned in a practical way…without being able to express oneself, without being confident and without being fearful, is useless.

It is also extremely dangerous.

Social development is about improving the well-being of every individual in society so they can reach their full potential.  The success of society is linked to the well-being of each and every citizen. Social development means investing in people.

Without this investment, we are headed to a future where information will be available at every second, but the ability to process it is nonexistent.

This can lead to bad decisions and bad leadership throughout our society.

National studies verify this all the way back to the 1950’s.  Children involved in Arts programing tend to have better attendance, be on time more, score 20% higher in testing, and tend to end up with better careers.

Yet, today, we still have “academics” who do not understand that to get the maximum results from a child, you must have the proper balance of knowledge and social development.

If we as a society can finally understand that the arts are as important as the academics and sciences, then the arts will take hold in our schools. We will finally catch up to our older sibling countries around the world who have for years mandating Arts Education as a core subject in curriculum.

If we allow continued cuts to Art Programming in our schools, we will be writing our own future where the norm will be a socially inactive and unable to communicate society.

Parents beware, the facts are clear.

Now, revisiting the topic of my age and experience… Many the wise and elders have stated that society will take the shape of its youth.  So, I too have a stake in promoting social development for our young ones.

Here’s an Interesting thought…imagine if I was not a person who was socially developed?

I would not have been able to explain or share these words with you…and you would not have had the inclination to read this article.  One has to ask the question…What does the future hold for our society?

I don’t have the answers, but I guess it’s just another thought for this older, experienced and more mature man to ponder.

Till next time…peace and social development to all.