The goal of education is to provide our youth with resources and tools – and to encourage their active exploration of this amazing world – guiding them towards making the contributions that they choose to make in life. 

Somewhere along the line, the enforced robotization and homogenization of our next generation of worker bees became the unspoken goals — with parents enriching their children’s education in order to attain a higher position in the worker hierarchy –  why be a drone when one could be an executive bee?

And programs that take disadvantaged kids, and prepare them for college and the bright future of droneage, are pointed to as proof that education works!

Just look at the testing programs, and the tests, that have been adopted at the national level – and you’ll see the foundation of the lockstep two-step march that is enforced on teachers and students. 

Besides the growing awareness that our worker bees are being prepared for jobs and a world that won’t exist (that’s how out of touch the system is), economic forces have led to the stripping away of anything not considered essential to the creation of parts for the big machine.

I’m referring to the loss of music, art and physical education programs state wide (and it’s happening across the country) – this loss, along with the reduction in access to school libraries and to counselors, is removing the only “lubrication” that allowed many kids to survive the education process relatively intact.

What I am describing is NOT an indictment of our teachers.  These people are doing the very best they can to humanize an inhuman process that has been forced upon them as well.  My wish for teachers is that they be paid ten times what they currently make and be provided with a flexible curriculum and the assets to back it up.

And many of the admininistration people I have met are genuinely concerned for the well being of their students.  But many of the real decision makers are territory-protecting bureaucrats, more interested in maintaining and improving their position in the power structure than in improving the lives of our next generation.

Solutions?  We could talk for days — our system is broken, and the grinding sounds of distress can’t be ignored.

With music education alone, the loss of music programs tragically eliminates the development of a number of life skills, and constitutes a powerful “dumbing down” of our population.  Examples?

Teamwork:  in music, kids learn to play together – each contributing something unique and different to the music — teamwork in the service of beauty.

Paradox:  kids minds become flexible as they learn to hold opposite positions in their minds at the same time – you don’t work the piano, you play it – same with guitar, you don’t work guitar, you play guitar.  However, without discipline and real dedication of time and energy (work) you can’t play!

Chaos management:  if you’ve ever played music in a group, you have learned how to manage the chaos of multiple things going wrong as you and your companions make a collective effort to head in the right direction!

Self confidence: the sense of personal accomplishment achieved in learning to play a piece of music far surpasses the accomplishment of getting an “A” by regurgitating “correct” answers.  Music creates a spacious mind, where as “being right” reinforces a rigid and narrow mind.

Celebration: playing music teaches a unique human skill — the ability to set “normal” concerns aside and to CELEBRATE!  Compare learning to CELEBRATE! to “getting the job done…”

I could go on and on and on – but even with these few examples you can see that losing music education leads to a tragic loss of essential skills that enable us to respond to life situations creatively and with flexibility.

And isn’t it ironic that musicians are “celebrated” by our culture – a culture that does just about all it can to suppress their development?

This is obviously a complex subject — the bottom line is that we need to revision education, and we need to include the arts as central and vital to what makes life worth living.   

Grim faced satisfaction at ramming the “3-R’s” down the throats of our young completely misses the point of the skills they will need in order to face the really complex challenges of a world spinning off axis, caused by the same “business as usual” that the system is trying to enforce.

We need to dedicate resources to our children – the resources that are now being squandered in war machinery and multiple pointless wars. What does that teach our kids?

And if you’ve read this far, would you agree that more than education needs revisioning?  And will our responses to the multi-dimensional crisis facing our world be simplistic and one-dimensional?  Will we look to our “leaders” and do what they say in hopes of getting an “A”?  (Example question: “Is war necessary?”)

Or will we rise to the occasion, and instead of working the piano, we’ll play it!