Recently I read an editorial that expressed an objection over inclusion of the fine and performing arts in the Hathway scholarship.  The main concern apparently was that including the arts in the criteria might somehow dilute the "academic rigor" of the current Hathaway requirements.

I like to think I have a fairly decent vocabulary, but I have to admit the only word that came to mind when I first read the opinion was, "Really?!?!"  It must have been written by someone who has never spent hours going over and over one passage of a score, trying to get precision in rhythm, dynamics, tone and technique.  For me, personally, the discipline to study algebra, geometry and even trigonometry paled in comparison to the discipline needed to place at state music competiton in trumpet performance.

More importantly, the editorial was written by someone who doesn't understand the very definition of academic rigor.  Academic refers to literary and artistic studies, as opposed to professional studies.  Rigor involves pushing one's self beyond what comes easily.  By those standards, the arts not only fit into the academic rigor of the Hathaway requirements, but embody them.

Visual and performing arts should not be seen as extracurricular, but rather interdisciplinary.  The arts take many, many different concepts that have been learned and combine them.  A successful artist must be able to pull from his or her community discourse skills and knowledge that include mathematics, language arts, history and science and use them for a practical and tangible outcome.  Many people recognize the creativity and innovation involved in the arts but fail to acknowledge the structure and logic also inherent.

The editorial mentioned the need for academic rigor as a means to a productive and competent work force in Wyoming.  Oh, my.  Dear author, you might want to go back and read your Greek history.  It was Athens, the center of art and learning, that was bursting with productivity and commerce -- not Sparta.  If we want our Wyoming youth to be leaders of economy and business, the arts most definitely have their place in the "academic rigor" of our highest tiers of scholarship.


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