Ms. Jam Giubardo
As a high school student I, along with millions of teenagers, have to wake up early five times a week to go to school. I then have to sit through almost eight hours of lectures, worksheets, and tests. The only time when I get a break is art class. Like exercise, art is a way to relax and regenerate the mind during long, academically intense days. But art isn’t merely an escape from thinking, it is fuel for thinking.
The true value of an arts education goes far beyond learning how to draw, sing, or play a musical instrument. Getting students involved in visual arts, music, and theater not only broadens their perspective and helps to promote social tolerance, but gives students various academic advantages as well.
In the past few years, neuroscientists have been researching the effect of arts on students of all ages and what they discovered should change the way the arts are viewed in schools. According to the American Association of School Administrators, studies show that, “During the brain’s early years, neural connections are being made at a rapid rate. Much of what young children do as play — singing, drawing, dancing — are natural forms of art. These activities engage all the senses and wire the brain for successful learning.” However, these activities should be carried on throughout the later years of a student. Also, the arts have been proven numerous times to help with cognitive learning and motor skills. To be able to create fine art requires that you develop precise and thoughtful movements, and learning a musical instrument allows the mind to create patterns and count. More Specifically, it stimulates a certain part of the brain that is connected to social skills and emotional control (AASA). So, knowing this, why are schools still cutting art programs?
It is pretty obvious that whenever a school decides to cut a program, it is usually due to budget difficulties, and, because the school curriculum is formed around the cultural interests of the majority, it is easier to make the decision to cut art programs. Our society has created this illusion that the arts are a waste of time and don’t lead to many career options. A survey done at Champlain Valley Union High School in Vermont asked kids to explain why they thought art was important. CVUHS Senior, Kevin Motia, answered, “I believe that art classes should not be required in high school. Almost nothing learned from an art class can be applied in any field other than art, so I don’t think that anyone who knows that they don’t want to be an artist should be required to take an art class. You might think be thinking, “Oh, well then why do people who know that they don’t want to go into STEM fields be required to attend math and science classes?” I believe that this is because math and science can be applied in daily situations. Even if you are an artist, and not in a STEM field, you still need to know how to count your paint brushes, or figure out the concentrations of different colors of paint to get that perfect shade of aqua-marine blue.” This statement made by the student demonstrates just how the importance of the arts is falsely conveyed. Although his statement may be extreme, it is the result of false information. The problem with this is that it has been proven that art does change the way kids learn and think, and it is very beneficial.
Educational Psychologist, Dr. Benjamin Bloom created Bloom’s Taxonomy in order to promote higher forms of thinking. These levels of thinking end with creating as the highest level of thinking. In all art classes your brain learns to create and kids are taught to use the brain and actually be able to apply it to new thinking, instead of spitting out information on a vocab test or math worksheet. Of course I’m not in anyway saying that math, science, english and social studies are in any way less important than art, but what needs to be conveyed is that art will help further critical thinking in those subjects, and therefore allow kids to create incredible things from their learning.