Not Less of Making Art

Submitted By:
Elizabeth Morley, Dr. Eric Jackman Institute of Child Study Lab School, University of Toronto, Ontario

How to Save a Sad, Lonely, Angry and Mean Society by David Brooks
The New York Times, January 25, 2024

In a stirring article, David Brooks acknowledges the need to rethink the direction of society’s current shifts and offers signposts toward solutions. There is food for thought for any reader here, but for educators there is mandate, urgency, and wayfinding advice for volatile and uncertain times. His premise may feel intuitively right, but he does not settle there. Rather, he examines what is evidence-based about the connection between the humanities and increasing compassion for others. He walks us through how art, fiction-reading, the study of history, and knowledge of the classics draw us closer to a society that cares more for individuals and perceives the needs of society more acutely. Most importantly, while he points out that the great conversations across time and cultures have modelled effective civil discourse, he does not leave us alone to figure out how to build those skills in ourselves and our students. Brooks would likely have much to say when curricula are being set in schools. There would be more, not less, of making art in all its forms. Works that touch the heart, whether from the canons of culture or the student behind the next desk, would be championed. Empathy, longing, understanding, and desire run through this essay and could reach us in independent schools where we may find the autonomy to make creative choices toward the arts and the betterment of society.

Current Events & Civic Engagement
Social-Emotional Learning