Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Educational Trends Pt 3 -- Arts

We don't know any friends' kids who are learning music or art.  It appears not to be in favour.  Personally I find that shocking and disappointing. 

So what is in?  Group dance classes to the tune of about a thousand a month.  Plus all the makeup,  costumes, competition fees, travel and overnight stays.  Some would call it more "show" than "true" dance but nonetheless, it is a huge industry.  The group mentality and the pressures that come with it are alive and well. 

We know of 2 families who spent between 26K - 30K each to travel to the London Olympics (2 families of 4, for a week) to dance with the group.  When we were told, I just thought WOW!  To be 14 years old and be able to dance at the Summer Olympics!  How do you even go about getting an opportunity like that?

As one mom put it, "We got there, had a day to settle in and S spent 45 min dancing at an out of the way industrial parking lot where no one was watching.  No sign, no stage, no organization...We quickly realized it was a ploy for the school to be able to write off a trip to the Olympics."  They did get tickets to see one round of fencing.  Afterwards the family just did our own thing and enjoyed London.

On the other end of the spectrum we know of parents who are waiting for a "sign" from their child of their "leanings" before signing them up for anything.   And they are honestly hoping it won't be the piano as they don't want to make room for one in their house.  The TV takes priority.  You should have seen my face when I heard that. 

As well as parents who have openly declared they are not going to provide any opportunities outside of what's available at school or summer school because they are just too busy and tired to bother.  Money is not the issue.  I feel bad for the kids and hope they will keep their interests alive inside and pursue it when they are able to fund it themselves.


  1. This post breaks my heart! While I don't want my kid to one of those overscheduled little machines, I do want to expose him to the joy of artistic/musical pursuits. I started playing piano when I was 4, and loved it so much I ended up teaching it to younger kids starting in Grade 8. It was a great way to make extra cash, but beyond that, I gained so much from this experience. For instance, hard work pays off and stage fright can be beaten! Music has brought me comfort and joy throughout my life, and to this day, I sing in a choir, and I look forward to rehearsal every week. He is only 15 months and is already showing interest in music, but that's probably because we have a piano, guitar, djembe in the living room (and the TV isn't on when he's awake), so it's part of his every day life. There are certain skills that a kid doesn't learn in school that I will be certain to have my son learn-swimming, rudimentary music, and some kind of athletic pursuit (e.g., soccer, martial arts) just to make movement a regular part of life (along with the walks, playing in the park etc we'll do as a family of course). I struggle to understand the popularity of dance, cheer and pageants. It seems like a lot of time and money based solely on appearance, and not learning or expressing one's self.

  2. I'm a purist when it comes to dance so not sure I'll ever get used to all the fanfare that accompanies what some kids are learning nowadays.

    One of my biggest concerns with that whole industry is fostering everything as a "peak experience". Already grade 8 graduations are resembling a prom with limos, evening gowns and 6 hr of makeup/hair preparation (I don't even own mascara or hair spray). And now "Olympics" at age 14. What's next? How do you continue to top that? Look at how crazy the wedding industry is already. I think we are losing sight of the big picture values.

    Your description of parenting and upbringing is lovely. I bet your son loves the djembe! I'm still working on the stage fright thing... Should D and I ever have children I will have to reign in my enthusiasm for exposing them to everything all at once. I would want them to grow up being able to look back and speak fondly like you have about their childhood. Keep up the great work!