Today I took my child out of school early today, not for a doctor’s appointment, or a religious reason, not because he called home feeling ill. This was planned.

We went to the Tacoma Glass Museum to watch Maestro Lino Tagliapietra in the hot shop.

Now, some parents (and schools) are sticklers for attendance. ONLY if a child is sick (and they mean, in the hospital) should a child be late, tardy or absent. In general, while I am not that uptight about attendance (any fever or lethargy qualifies as a home day), I do try to impress upon the children the importance of showing up and doing one’s best work.

One might think, given his many absences last trimester that I would want him in school as much as possible this trimester — so he doesn’t fall behind, or miss too many opportunities to support his learning.

But this is the first year that his school doesn’t have an art program. I strongly believe that the arts are not just a “nice” part of an education — I believe they are essential to a well-rounded individual. If my child does not have access to art in school, then it is my duty as a parent to be sure he gets it outside of school. Fortunately, they still have an excellent music program… and the literature/social studies teachers make sure to incorporate culture things like art when and where they can.

So Wednesdays are the day that all the classes are a little shorter, and they get out of school more than an hour earlier than usual to allow the entire staff to meet together or work in small teams on projects. Last week, I checked with his teacher for the last two classes and discovered that today she would be gone! And, with her blessing, I snagged the kid as soon as he was done with science and skee-daddled for the hills. Or, in this case, the Port of Tacoma.

Tying this in to the “something new” that is the theme for the day… This is the first time I have ever deliberately taken a kid out of classes for a “frivolous” activity. So that’s new.

But more importantly, it was looking at the art — and the artisans through my child’s eyes. His wonder, his joy, the en-joy-ment with which we watched each new layer being gatherered onto the pipe, the casual but elegant choreography between the team members, the care and interest with which the master blew, turned, passed the work to his “students” — many of whom are close to masters in their own right, I am sure.

New. Not brand-spanking, gleaming and scratch-free, but fresh, interesting, exciting.

Watching a 73-year old man blow glass? Highly new. And wonderful.

Apparently, I am not the only person who feels “The Arts” are worthy of dedicated time in an educational life… Today an article on the BBC website indicates that far more people than I are working to keep (or restore) arts in schools! (yay me/us)