What Are We Doing to Arts Education?
“The Arts” and “Culture”. These are two terms that are thrown around in today’s society, but what have they really come to mean? Have what were once profound and highly developed concepts recently been pushed towards obsolete, or worse, a mere tool for other endeavors?
For previous magnificent cultures, such as the Egyptians, Greeks or Italian Renaissance, the arts have been so critical as to even define the society’s mark on history. But today, much of our children’s education of the Arts has turned into merely a support structure for other subjects, namely Math, History, Science, and English. The repeated standardized testing and scoring of our children to determine their aptitude for any given subject has proved that involvement of the arts will help boost test scores and ultimately improve knowledge retention. However, does this mean that the Arts should be heavily utilized as a method to enhance one’s Math understanding? Surely visual elements will assist most thinkers to conceptualize things like geography, world history, or biology, as we know from the prevalent use of maps and images in text books, but to understand the full purpose and potential of Art requires a deeper and more innate appreciation for the term and its many forms.
More to the point, Art does not have to improve a child’s reading level to prove its intrinsic value in our society.
A foundation of Arts education serves a critical need for young ladies and gentlemen by developing appreciation of sculpture, music, paintings, drama and dance. People who have attempted projects in these fields can then enjoy them more fully, knowing the level of difficulty to develop mastery of the crafts. Young people can gain self esteem, fine motor skills, and an expressive voice, as well as build career enhancing traits like patience, creative problem solving, and good craftsmanship. The arts are also used for community building and services, challenging social norms and providing methods for community reflection and growth. To not afford students these tools would significantly limit a society’s growth potential.
In summary, the Arts should not be viewed as stepping stone for generating higher level reading, but instead carry their own value and merit based solely on the innate human need for beauty, expression, and creativity.