Why Being in School Matters

When school comes to mind, it seems that math and reading are often the first things people prioritize. But school should be so much more. After all, being in school takes a significant amount of time in an individual's growth. For this reason, leaving school does so much more that alternative learning systems for adults should not really become an option. It is imperative then that all efforts must be exhausted to keep children in school. Past the teens, excellent opportunities have been lost. Schools should provide children ample time to explore and discover the world around them and their own hearts and minds. Last night, I watched my son's 4th grade class perform "Ode to Joy". I did not have such an opportunity when I was growing up which made me realize that my son's school was indeed making the most of my child's time.

With the above fresh in my mind, I would like to take you back to a previous post in this blog,

Music, Arts and Physical Education

In the Philippines, these subjects are combined with health to form one learning area called MAPEH (music, arts, physical education, and health). In Fairfax county in Virginia, music, arts and physical education are called "specials" while health is in a separate subject with science and social studies.

The following shows the time allotment in DepEd's K to 12 for the various learning areas:

Above copied from DepEd order no. 31, s. 2012

And below is an example of a class schedule in Fairfax county.

Above copied from Mason Crest Elementary School

Fairfax county allots fifty percent additional time to music, art and physical education than DepEd's K to 12.  A paper published in 2003 in the Journal of Curriculum Studies specifically looked at the time allotted for music, arts and physical education and concluded that reducing time allocation in these areas is not related to higher scores in math, english, science and social studies. A previous post in this blog in fact highlighted an elementary school in Fairfax county that was doing the opposite,

Above copied from Woodburn Elementary School

Instructional time is an important factor in learning outcomes. Of course, the quality and content in these instructional hours matter. While instructional times may vary between schools, between districts, and between countries, there are school breaks spanning eight to twelve weeks. Thus, learning loss over these breaks has become a topic of education research. The Wallace Foundation, for example, has funded a five-year project that would examine the effects of summer programs. Initial findings show a positive effect on math scores but not in reading.

My children are in Fairfax county and this summer, they are participating in the county's School-Aged Child Care (SACC) summer program.

Above copied from Fairfax County's website

The children are not grouped according to grade level. Instead, there are three cabins: artist, performer and athlete. My daughter is in the performer's group while my son joins the athlete's cabin. And though there are separate cabins, there are activities shared by everyone. For example, this week, everyone is watching a Mystics game at the Verizon Center. Last year, about 250 students performed the routine in the Washington Mystics’ pregame and halftime show.

Above copied from Fairfax County's website

Laurentia Blay, SACC director at Mason Crest Elementary School, told me that I am welcomed to watch the show at the Verizon Center. However, she said jokingly, that I do need to purchase my own ticket. Parents, however, are treated weekly to a performance by the students and last Friday it was the School House Rock.

The presentation actually demonstrated the essence of Woodburn's program of learning through the arts. There was math.

There was English, as students dance their way through adverbs,


and interjections.

The science lesson was about the solar system.

And my daughter performed as Neptune.

Research does show the importance of music, arts and physical education.

Above copied from the Education Commission of the States

But the proud and confident smile on my daughter's lips is enough to convince me that music, arts and physical education are as worthwhile as math and reading. And it is only deserving that in Fairfax, these subjects are called "specials".