Farmerman, I have a successful technology career. And I have a love for music (singing) and dance. I know something about the subject.
Let me try another tack. Maybe the perceived "inimical differences" I am dwelling upon are between art, and art education
I was thinking back last night on my art education career. Most (if not all of it) was completely useless to me. I had at least one "art appreciation" course where I learned, and was tested on, terms like "impressionist" and could identify the works of some artists that some people think are important for me to know about. Actually, this was worse than useless... learning about art in a classroom had the effect of making art (something that should be a source of inspiration and pleasure) into a drudgery.
The art that was meaningful to me was the art that I sought out
(or maybe it sought me out). Through my preteen and teen years I was involved in the theater. This was private children's theater (Andy's summer playhouse in New Hampshire... it seems to still be going strong). I spent hours memorizing lines, fussing over costumes, rehearsing, training. There was no classroom study, and no tests... just performances and being surrounded by passionate people, both adults and peers.
These are the experiences that inspired me and nourished my young soul. Experiences like this were enough to counteract the dry, staid, lifeless "art" that was shoved down my throat in school.
I do believe that different students have different needs
. Maybe vocabulary tests with words like "impressionist" or gaining the ability to circle and identify architectural terms from pictures of buildings is useful for some children. For me it was soul-sapping (and I mean that literally) drudgery.
I live in Cambridge MA. I have been pretty happy by the programs that are available to my children in public schools so far.
My daughter is having the same experience with "art education" . She hates art in school (ironically her chorus teacher called me last week because she is having trouble "focusing"). Yet she voluntarily has joined "Boston City Singers" which a singing performance group that pushes her pretty hard and has performances.