Letters to the Editor: How arts education and rote learning go hand in hand

A student passes a "welcome back to school" sign on her way to class in New York.
(Associated Press)

To the editor: As an educator, I couldn’t agree more with Doug Lemov that learning and retaining basic facts, and creating a supportive, inclusive environment, are foundational to good pedagogy.

What I don’t understand is the complete absence of arts education in his solutions.

For thousands of years, the arts have helped students memorize facts, work together and build social cohesion. Have you ever wondered why there’s so much singing in preschool and kindergarten classes? Simply singing facts make it far more likely those facts will be retained.


Research on the academic benefits of the arts abounds. Students who study the arts are more successful in all aspects of education, yet the arts remain ignored, underfunded and misused throughout our educational system.

There is no magic bullet for fixing education, but any viable solution needs to include strong investment in arts education.

The science is clear: It is time to start investing in and promoting arts education in our schools.

Carlos Anwandter, Gardena


To the editor: The isolation students experienced has also contributed to their unfinished learning. Refunding and booking school field trips will be the antidote to that isolation and is another way students can learn facts along with the coveted critical-thinking and problem-solving skills.

Parents too should be taking their kids out. Museums are open again, as are hiking trails and libraries.


Even take the children on errands. The grocery store is a veritable university of math, reading and science.

Sari Goodman, Los Angeles


To the editor: The problem with teaching rote learning is that you are not teaching the “why.”

Wait. That is a good thing. Higher-level thinking requires the ability to assume things like “let ‘x’ equal three.” But kids will say, “Teacher, why is ‘x’ three?”

The mind must be flexible and willing to learn. People who ask why are often just lazy and impatient. People should use their brain and figure it out.

Learning the basics by rote learning creates a concrete foundation upon which the structures of analytical thinking can be erected.

Paul Garcia, Whittier