Arts education… why do we care?

Try to imagine a world without art. The word culture would vanish from our vocabulary. Every building is a copy of the one next to it. Every person dressed exactly the same. Every city is laid out the same way. Every line is straight, because it never curved. Technology is almost non-existent. All because creativity was never generated.

What does a school without art look like? A cold, concrete building void of all color. No kindergarten finger painting, no choir concerts or school plays to go to, no dress codes, no marching bands. And can you imagine your adolescence without a single high school dance?

The arts are integral to our daily lives. They need to be an equally integral part of education. Arts belong in the classroom because they belong in our world. Excluding the arts from education would deprive our children of creative outlets and deny them the chance to develop as creative, critical thinkers and citizens. The arts give  us a way to create, understand and embrace all the differences in our world. And American education needs to prioritize and take ownership of the mission to develop the creative thinkers our current social, economic, political and cultural circumstances demand.

I started this blog as the next step in an independent study project in arts education in America. Each week I will be analyzing scholarly papers, news articles, current US policy, case studies and other reports regarding arts in education. The scope of this blog is unlimited. I hope it will extend beyond its initial academic and personal purposes to bring arts education issues and advocacy to people through this unique medium.

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2 thoughts on “Arts education… why do we care?

  1. I’m curious why art has such resonance for you, and presumably other people. How is it that you are able to see art in technology, among other things? How, in other words, has art been filtered out of our conscious recognition in favor, perhaps, of other “disciplines”?

  2. I am an introspective and cautious person. I spend so much of my time thinking about other people and why they do what they do. I think (some would say too much) before taking an action. The arts, and specifically theater, provide me with other ways to study what others do and why humans are the way that they are. My experiences of being involved in theater also challenge that “think first act second” pattern in my life, by creating circumstances that have helped me to trust my impulses, take a risk and not be afraid to make a mistake. These experiences happened for me throughout grade school and continue to happen in college. And in my experience teaching drama, I have seen younger students
    have similar crystalizing, break-through moments.

    It’s important not to divide arts and sciences. The two have a much stronger relationship than we generally attribute to them. Technological advances require creative thinking. A need or desire for something new or improved exists, and whoever makes that improvement or invention has to be able to think outside the box, and imagine what does not yet exist. The arts can contribute to the development of this kind of thinking, so they need to be valued at a level equal to the sciences and other disciplines.

    There is still a common misconception that the arts are just frills or extras. People also don’t always consider entertainment as a basic need. But recent policy like the National Standards for the Arts, Goals 2000 and even No Child Left Behind, have recognized the arts as a core academic subject, showing that they do more than just entertain. It’s still too easy to filter the arts out of what we consider “basic” or essential, especially considering the current economic conditions. But the arts make us think in different ways about things that don’t necessarily always come up in our daily life. Or, even better, they force us to take a closer look at relationships or issues that we take for granted on a daily basis. Even though people are holding on tight to their money these days, it’s important to still engage in these types of experiences that enrich our lives in a way that money can’t.

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