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Harvard president and Wynton Marsalis advocate for arts education

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Harvard University President Drew Faust and jazz trumpeter Wynton Marsalis called for increased arts education in American schools in an opinion piece for USA Today. 

The essay, which they co-wrote and was published earlier this week, argued against the established trend of outcome-based teaching and extolled the values of learning the arts.

As we lament the discordant tone of our national conversation, perhaps we should focus less on that which we can easily count. Let's instead look to the longer run as we teach our children how to practice until it hurts, to bravely take the stage, to imagine, create and innovate and — after hitting that wrong note — follow it up with the right one.

We must teach our children to be ready for a world we cannot yet know, one that will require the attitudes and understanding sparked and nurtured by the experience of the arts.

Faust and Marsalis cited statistics showing that arts education has declined in the U.S. In 1982, they said, nearly 66 percent of 18-year-olds reported taking art classes. In 2008, fewer than 50 percent did. 

The piece also praised music instruction specifically, saying it "stresses individual practice and technical excellence" while also teaching students to listen and work well with others. 

Marsalis presented a series of lecture-performances as part of his focus on arts education with Faust. Called “Hidden in Plain View: Meanings in American Music,” the final performance will take place in Cambridge, Massachusetts Jan. 30.

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