Today, art education has been put on the back burner, with an increase in emphasis on math and science in our society. While this is not a bad thing in the least, it takes away from other forms of education, for example art education, of its importance.
For example, The Broward County Public School system, in Florida has reduced arts funding in more than a third of their middle and high schools.
In New York City, between the 2006-2007 school year and June 2010, the funding for the arts in public schools was cut by 68 percent, or $7.2 million.
Federal funding for the arts and humanities rolls in around $250 million a year, while the National Science Foundation is funded around the $5 billion mark.
It is time to refocuses on the arts.
Almost everyone has heard of the benefits of art education. Playing an instrument promotes concentration and discipline in kids while helping improve their math skills, reading and writing music establish mental organization, and art in general promotes creativity and teach children that problems can have more than one solution and that questions can have more than one answer.
“We use a system here which is the dynamic creative process and in the dynamic creative process we teach you how to problem solve in a more abstract manner instead of a more formally driven manner. That way when you come upon a problem in the future, you’ll be able to use the skill sets that you use in art to come up with a creatively and out of the box way to solve a problem,” art teacher Boyles said.
Some believe that art education in general improves overall academic. For example, there was a study done by the President’s Committee on the Arts and Learning. It showed that art education had a positive effect, not only with academic achievement, but with overall achievement as well.
“Creativity and creation are taught in many ways in many courses. Art is an example of a class where both are taught. I think creativity and creation are two of the most valuable skills an employee can have in any field. Thus, there is value in art,” math teacher Mr. Orsini said.
There has been a huge emphasis placed on math and science because jobs in those fields are what need to be filled in today’s market to stay competitive but that isn’t the only (and most immediate) reason.
“The No Child Left Behind Act was a 2001 revision to an earlier education law. NCLB is aimed at making schools more accountable by using standardized tests to rate how well students are learning. If a school is considered to be “in need of improvement,” parents can have their children attend another school. The law has received criticism for making performance on high-stakes reading and math tests more important than an overall education,” Matt Phifer wrote for an article for ABC News.
Due to this, artistic jobs have been downgraded.
When I was but a wee tot, I told people when I grew up I was going to be a painter or a writer or an actress. My sister too said she wanted to be a singer or an actress. The people I told would always smile and comment, very kindly, on how cute we were, but wait until you get to the real world, your opinion will change. I was told that those dreams weren’t realistic and those jobs wouldn’t pay enough and I would have to fight to eat each day.
The worst thing we can do is suppress the budding artistic spirit in students.
An article for Seattle PI pointed out that slashes in funding for art programs is linked to an increase in dropout rates coupled with a decrease in test scores. And because wealthy communities often find ways to fund arts programs while their less affluent counterparts cannot, cuts to arts programs create deepening disparity between communities and their citizens.
Yes, science and math are essential, especially in today’s job market. However, if we only place an emphasis on these subjects we are not only depriving kids of a good education, we are depriving them of self-expression.
If more artistically focused people are required to take years of math and science, then it should be the same way for more scientific or mathematic minds to have to take classes in the arts. Or a simpler solution would be to not force either type of person into classes that they do not plan on focusing on for the rest of their life.
It just doesn’t seem right that, for example, if a math or science person is not as strong in art, they are told not to worry and that not everyone is artistic. However, if an artistic person is not as strong in math or science, it is assumed that he/she is not trying hard enough or is not intelligent.
As Steve Jobs once said “It is in Apple’s DNA that technology alone is not enough—its technology married with liberal arts, married with the humanities, that yields us the results that make our heart sing.”