Our Youth’s Talent Is Under-Tapped
Despite being incredibly busy last week and having about 500 not-so-fun things to think about and decide in haste, I decided to throw caution to the wind for an hour or two and attend the Davidson Elementary School Talent Show. It was quite therapeutic!
My kids weren’t actually in the talent show. My oldest kid would play baseball in front of millions, if he could, without an ounce of nerves. But get him in front of people to sing or dance?
No. It’s never going to happen. My youngest wasn’t interested in performing in the talent show either because he claims his talents are “drawing, being invincible, and playing piano” and he claims that combo doesn’t translate well into a stage performance. Besides the fact that he literally does not know how to play a single thing on piano, I told him he might want to reconsider performing because he might could do something really artsy and meta with drawing, invincibility and a false talent. He declined.
So why would I go to an elementary school Talent Show that in no way featured my own children? Good question. I wondered that myself when I was forced to buy a $1 candy bar thinking it was the fee to get in only to realize 10 steps later that I still had to pay the $1 fee to get in and I had just been conned into buying a $1 candy bar.
I went because I have lovely friends here who support my kids and who have their own hilarious children who I love, so I wanted to see them perform. And mainly because I was privy to secret information that 4th grader Max Smith was doing a stand up routine. Oh, yeah. Step aside, Dave Chapelle, step aside.
There are a couple things I learned from the DES Talent Show. First, girls love back-walkovers. I mean, they really really love back-walkovers. I would say 70 percent of the female children performed at least one, if not 50, back-walkovers. Some girls were calmly graceful and clearly athletic in their method. Some girls looked like slinkies set off down a set of M. C. Escher stairs. I can’t blame them. Back-walkovers are the best part of girlhood, second only to pretending to be a beautiful mermaid while swimming, and if I still had a jelly spine then I’d probably back-walkover my way to work this morning.
Secondly and most importantly, kids love music and dance. We all knew this already but, man, they really want to move and sing. A music and performing arts program would benefit our kids so much that it literally pains me in my heart that we don’t really have much of that. Kudos to all the non-music teachers who include this in their curriculum in whatever ways they can and work on events like this Talent Show.
But it shouldn’t be just up to you all. We’ve got to find a budget for the arts. There are too many talented and enthusiastic children in our town to not give them the attention and leadership that they deserve in this respect.
The point of education, as I see it, is to help foster and guide whatever inclination a child may pick up on, whether that may mean creating entrepreneurs, builders, educators, scientists, craftspeople, musicians, performers, athletes, artists, etc. To leave out a huge segment of what most people love, and what almost as many people actually do in some form or another, is absolutely baffling to me.
The benefit of arts education cannot be underestimated. And it doesn’t take a whole lot to make arts education work. No one needs a field or a stadium or fancy uniforms. Most of what you do in elementary art, music, and performance, you do and make yourself. We don’t need the best stuff because our kids are the best stuff. They bring the talent and the smarts. They just need a guide.
All this to say, the payoff to try just a little bit harder at getting more performing arts and music education funding at our school seems well worth the detriment of being okay with the status quo and not trying for more.
In the words of fourth grader Max Smith’s final joke that brought down the house at the DES Talent Show, “And the Lord said unto John, ‘Come forth and receive eternal life!’ But John came fifth and won a toaster.”