In most developed countries, the arts are at the margins of formal education. There are three reasons: They are seen as leisure activities, nonacademic, and irrelevant to employment or the economy. They are seen as separate from the main concerns of formal schooling, where the emphasis is on academic ability and especially literacy and numeracy. CAPE offers a powerful alternative vision of the arts and of education. This book says what this vision is and how it can be put into practice.
Education should be a social process. It must help young people engage with the cultural universes where they live and must make their way. It is through the arts that cultural values are most vividly expressed. Conventional academic education develops certain sorts of intellectual ability, especially verbal and mathematical reasoning and particular forms of critical thinking. These are very important, but they are not the whole of human intelligence. If they were, most of human culture would not have happened. There would be no music, no design, no feelings, dance, poetry, architecture, no love, relationships, or innovation. We often do need to think logically, but our deepest thoughts and judgments are also touched by values and feelings, by intuition and rapport, and by the very sensuousness of living. These are what the arts are about.
Education must enable young people to engage with themselves. It should help them recognize and develop their own unique capabilities. Human culture is so rich and diverse because human intelligence is so complex and dynamic. We can think about our experiences in all the ways we have them—visually, in sound, in movement, and in touch, as well as through words and numbers. All young people have academic abilities; for some, this is their real strength. But they also have other abilities, which may be expressed through music, art, sport, design, dance, and other ways. The arts offer many different ways to think and communicate—ways that have been the drivers of human culture and creativity down the ages. Too many young people never discover these abilities because education does not value or look hard enough for them. As a result, they often turn away from or against education altogether. CAPE has an impressive record of reengaging young people in education by rekindling their confidence in themselves and their real abilities.
The arts are important in themselves; they are also essential elements of a broad and dynamic curriculum. Motivation is born out of success. When young people find what they are good at in education, they tend to improve overall. Schools everywhere are under pressure to raise academic standards. Too often they think this means working within tightly defined subject boundaries, dropping the arts and