The Necessity of Art in Education

Regarding the article ``Arguing for Arts Education,'' April 1: The Massachusetts College of Art, mentioned by the writer, trained me as an artist in the '30s. What I learned there during those five years continues to be used daily even though I have not painted seriously for decades. To sharpen a student's power of observation of color, line, texture, and design is of the utmost importance for richness and quality of life. Once learned thoroughly they will be observed in art and nature with endless enjoyment and some resulting creativity. Elementary art courses started those famous in the field just as great mathematicians and scientists mastered elementary courses in their disciplines.

What can better give values in education than the arts and humanities? Is not this what our society needs most today to help counter violence, tawdriness in taste, and obsession with worldliness?

Our educators and politicians endlessly stress the need for science and mathematics as though nothing else matters. Let the students in mathematics and sciences also be required to have introductory courses in the arts. They may not have the ``talent'' for them (as many have none for the sciences) but their education and lives would be enriched. Let's argue for more arts education at all levels of society.

G. Stuart Hodge, West Falmouth, Mass.

Bad language from babes' mouths The opinion-page article ``Bad Language Moves From Movie Screen to Principal's Office,'' April 9, raises an important issue. The author, an elementary school principal, is concerned with children who increasingly use abusive language, sarcasm, and ridicule. He suggests the escalation of such language is a result of movie and television characters that speak to one another this way.

His remarks remind me of a Sunday school class I once taught. These were wonderful young people, bright, basically wholesome, and serious-minded. Yet there was a pattern of speech and interaction that often mirrored the one-liners, rejoinders, and ridicule that make up much of the dialogue on TV and in the movies. It was startling as I realized they didn't really know what they were doing to one another and how it was causing hurt.

We were able to talk about it and to some degree come to grips with what the writer calls ``bad language.'' This phenomenon isn't limited to young people, of course. It's all too easy for all of us to adopt and to adapt to these patterns of speech. But in the end, hard words do hurt.

Michael Rissler, Framingham, Mass.

The point made regarding the effect the crudities of TV are having on the language and behavior of young children should be taken to heart by all of us, not just parents. I would like to add that it would be well if President and Mrs. Bush would wash their own mouths out with soap. Young people who might discount the behavior of actors can still be influenced by the president of the United States and the first lady. Dignity is neither stuffy nor wimpish. Elna W. Hull, Burlingame, Calif.

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