Sep 22, 2010

Tea and a Thought: Crafting a Good Education

My son's friend is being sent to Albania for High School, in part because he was unhappy with the school he chose here, but also because his parents—like most snobby immigrants (Irish included)—feel he'll have a superior education in their native country. While I'm bummed for my son that he will lose a friend, I'm secretly delighted that my threats of deportation and exile will finally have some weight (they'll think twice now before eating the last cookie in the pack!)
I have friends and family members who have moved back to Ireland to school their children, I suppose thinking 'better the devil you know than the devil you don't', but I've never worried that my kids would have an inferior educational experience in New York City, and—touch wood—they haven't. There are things I love (diversity, choice of schools, access to some of the most amazing museums and cultural/educational institutions in the world, less rain while I'm waiting at pick-up), and things I don't love (obsessive parents, obsessive testing, obsessive parents obsessing over testing, and teaching to tests—but maybe that's everywhere now). I also don't love that perpetual New York City budget cuts have meant a shift away from the arts; sadly, arts programs in schools are always the first to suffer here when belts are tightened.

So, when I read a press release this morning about the Crafts Council of Ireland's new initiative—CRAFTed: Learning Skills for Life—to teach crafts to primary school children, I thought that my kids could do a lot worse than be exiled to Ireland for an education. I also thought, therein lies the difference. 

I'd imagine that fiscal belt tightening in Ireland is causing severe circulation problems at the moment, and yet, somehow, there is the will and the way to institute an arts program that recognizes the connection between education, creativity, and innovation—and nurtures it at an early age. In association with regional Education Centers and The National Museum of Ireland, CRAFTed will bring highly skilled craftspeople into the classrooms of thirty-six schools across the country to build skills, develop competencies, and support creative learning, with hands-on experience in traditional crafts like knitting, sewing, ceramics, jewelry-making, and wood-turning.  
Of course, it's not country-wide, and it's only once a week for five weeks for the current academic year, but it's better than nothing, and its heart—and head—is in the right place. Worst case scenario the program will be short lived but will at least spark new interest in 'old' skills; best case—it will be implemented long term and nationwide, and will lead to a new generation of creative, innovative, and skilled workers. 

Now, if only someone could set aside a little funding for money management classes ...

1 comment:

mise said...

I must try those threats too. The crafting initiative sounds great, and I wish it would come to our local unobsessive school.

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