Question: What's the matter with our education system?
Dana Gioia: The only force in our society that’s strong enough to in any sense compete with the mass of electronic media is the educational system. And I see the American educational system in really rather dire straits. And talking about the arts, the arts have been systematically removed from most of our schools. And so unless you grow up in an affluent community, you’re most . . . not likely to have the arts in your education. Which means not only are we not developing an audience for the arts – that’s one thing – but more important, the new generation of Americans are not receiving those spurs to personal growth that the arts create. The purpose of arts education is not to create more artists. It’s not to create more audiences. The purpose of arts education is to create a complete human being who can lead a productive life in a free society. You can’t do that just through academics and athletics. There are certain things that you can only learn in stories, in songs, that you can only see in images. When you take this out of a kid’s education, you impoverish their possibilities, both individually and socially. It’s as important to educate a child’s or an adolescent’s emotions as it is their mind. And when you take this out of the education of 60,000,000 American kids, and you focus on developing low-level work skills, I think you have, in the offing, a cultural, educational, economic and political disaster.
Recorded On: 7/6/07