Last week, I had some transgressive experiences. I spent the week hurrying away from work—not to have some sordid affair, but to get to Vacation Bible School in time to help with Arts and Crafts.
For those of you outside academia, you might well just shrug, and say, “What’s the big deal?” For those of you inside academia, you might understand that I could undergo a sex change operation and face less scandalized faces than I would if I told some of my colleagues that I was participating in Vacation Bible School.
After all, I don’t have children. One of my friends is always pointing out that one reason not to have children is so that we don’t have to do these things. She said, “I guess you’re really interested in the spiritual formation of these children, right?”
Well, no, it’s not as lofty as that. I really like the woman who asked me to help her with Arts and Crafts, and I was so flattered to be asked that I said yes.
I even drafted my husband, who came on the last night with his African drums, shakers, and other instruments to give the children a rhythm lesson. He asked how I thought it went.
What I told him I wanted to know was how we compared with the music instruction and the arts classes that they might have experienced in school, and then we looked at each other. The sad truth is that children likely aren’t getting much artistic instruction in school. I hadn’t thought about the value of Vacation Bible School in terms of giving children a foundation in the arts; like most people, I think of Vacation Bible School in terms of giving children a religious foundation. But sadly, these days, not many of our institutions are giving children much of a foundation in the arts.
We see the outcome of this inattention in terms of dropping numbers of Americans that go to museums. In a recent Washington Post article, we learn that only 16 percent of 8th graders ever go to a museum or gallery with their classes. And the story is similar for music events, plays, every kind of cultural event. Sad, sad, sad.
So, maybe the most transgressive thing I did last week wasn’t Vacation Bible School after all. Maybe it was inspiring children to love the arts.
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