If we had a Department of Culture in the United States (see the Ionarts Proposal), I might one day be writing about this happening here. In France, the Ministers of Education and Culture made announcements recently about their joint plan to improve arts education in the French public schools, as reported by Marie-Douce Albert (Des mesures pour l'éducation artistique, January 4) for Le Figaro:
By 2007, they will be singing in every school. And everywhere students will have chosen one area of cultural history to study. Making school choruses and partnership with public monuments the norm is, among other methods, how the government intends to inject a little more culture into classrooms.The Minister of Culture, Renaud Donnedieu de Vabres, challenged the school system "to make each student aware of his creative abilities, by providing new examinations, exchanges, encounters with art history, with creative work, in artistic lessons with teachers but also with artists." Libraries, conservatories, and museums have multiplied over the last 20 years, the article relates, so it is only a matter of strengthening their ties with schools. Furthermore, the government plans to remedy often-noted deficiencies in the artistic background of teachers with training programs in the appropriate institutions.
All of this will fulfill the Ministry's ambition "to develop the critical sense and awareness of young people so that they do not give in to the bludgeoning of the popular culture industry and settle for mass market products." Keep in mind that the Minister is a member of a conservative government, not the Socialists. Not even Democrats in the United States would be caught dead saying something like this, which is only one of the reasons why, in spite of my own political leanings in their direction, I feel so uninspired by their candidates. Sigh.