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The Arts in Education: Essential or Not?

Every time I scan the news I see another article about cutting the arts from education. It saddens me. Deeply. I know that budget cuts are very real and that there are no easy decisions or answers.

Here's the thing: to me, the timing could not be worse. School systems are being forced to put more and more emphasis on standardized tests. The result: the creative process is getting the squeeze. At home, technology has taken over. Instead of playing outside, building forts, or inside, drawing or painting, many kids are playing on the computer, gaming system or i-touch instead. So much is lost due to the absence of art.

When kids experience the arts they develop the following essential skills and qualities:

  • Imagination
  • Cognitive skills
  • Creative abilities
  • Problem solving
  • Fine motor skills
  • Critical thinking
  • Language development
  • Social skills
  • Sense of time and place
  • Focusing
  • Listening
  • Risk taking
  • Tolerance
  • Uniqueness

Just came across this article about a school that is doing their part to keep the arts alive at their school. I loved watching the video footage of the kids. Would love hear if your school has come up with some creative ways to preserve the arts at your school.

One last thought: March is youth art month -- hope that you'll do you part to foster the love of arts both at your child's school and at home.

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#1 Stephen P Brown 2010-03-15 14:46
It seems inconceivable that the arts can be so disrespected by today's decision makers! It is purely a case of those who have financial responsibility having different priorities over those that don't, and due to years and years of arts funding cuts in education, it seems many of today's decision makers are devoid of their own arts experiences - be they visual or performing. It could be one reason why sports programs are rarely removed from curriculums, because the decision makers have a direct personal reference to it. Had they received good quality, creativity-insp iring, 'why-the-arts-a re-important-to -human-existenc e' education to the same extent they did in sports, maybe there wouldn't be so many arts programs cut.

Yes, in this instance it seems Hollywood got it right in Mr. Holland's Opus: "Sooner or later these kids are going to have nothing to read or write about."! Couldn't agree more.

This same debate is again reared its head in the UK music scene with publicly-funded orchestra education programs being questioned. The primary response is along the lines of: if we didn't cut the school arts/music programs, orchestras wouldn't need to supplement the public education system! Someone even tried to accuse music conservatories of catering only to the middle and upper classes but again, the arts programs that were taken out of schools 20 years ago forced only those who could afford private music lessons to participate and now we are seeing the results of those non-arts-elitis t decisions. How very sad.

And now? Now the general quiet majority public (possibly through the embarrassment of 'missing' out) seems to appreciate the benefits of creativity/ arts education in improving the chances of a both a balanced life and everyone's well-being, but still the decision makers seem to resist and resent it. For all the qualities mentioned in your article above, arts are as important to 'living' as are physical education, reading, writing, and mathematics (hang on... aren't these as much 'artforms' as music, drama, dance & art?!), and therefore deserve equal opportunity when educating our citizens. Whatever happened to our 'nature' classes, too? Did they get swallowed up by learning how to play The Sims in school?

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