Day 173: Imagination Imperiled

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June 21, 2012 by Alex Hoekstra

I’ve remarked before about some of the trouble that I think learning institutions are in.  Whether it’s principally the result of budget cuts, or perhaps the priorities of such an industrial model of education were flawed before the belt got tighter, the environment in which so many children are meant to learn and grow and become successful, productive, inspired and happy people is an environment under stress.  The ecosystem of education is changing from the inside, and schools are running triage in hopes of preserving the core programs they consider most valuable.  Not often counted amongst those priorities are programs designed to engage and empower students’ creativity – art, music, theater, creative writing – the sort of stuff that might not look good on a professional CV, but exactly the sort of stuff that makes for extraordinary stories, essays and personal statements.  Practical skills matter in the real world, but well-rounded, well-balanced, creative and interesting people are still more valuable to a company than any calculator, even when it comes to crunching numbers.  Thinking outside the box isn’t an easy lesson to deliver in a classroom, but by eliminating creative education, so goes the opportunity for those lessons to come from within the students as they paint, sculpt, sing or sketch.  Today’s project comes from an art teacher who knows how important her work is, and is determined to keep working, with or without a school budget.

Imagination and Education come together in my book, “just do art”. As public schools suffer through endless budget reductions, art is usually one of the first programs to be cut. “just do art” is designed to be used in schools by classroom teachers, or in a home school environment. It is also a wonderful gift for anyone who would like to  “just do art”. The projects are inexpensive, educational and fun with step by step guides that are easy to follow!

Art is everywhere, and always has been.  Ever since mankind figured out how to leave its impression of the world in a sharable format, we’ve been carving and scribbling, trying to extend the cosmos of our creativity to those around us and those who’ll follow us.  Art isn’t something that I think can be taught easily, because there’s more to it than a steady hand and the right set of paint – the lessons are deeper than skill; they elicit an appreciation and hone intangible skills.  It’s unpleasantly unsurprising to me that that art programs are often first on the chopping block, but with a program like just do art in place to pick up where classrooms fall short, I’m hopeful that generations to come will continue to see cave walls as canvases and boulders as building blocks.

There’s not much time left to get behind this project, but if you’re quick, you can still become a part of just do art‘s lesson plan for keeping imagination alive and well by backing it on Kickstarter before 1 PM (EDT) today.


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