Mitchell De BothProf. DiSarroENG1031 November 2010 The Importance of Arts Education I was antisocial, the kid in the corner, my parents urged me to make friends. Inever saw the point or reason. Elementary school was a drag, day in and day out.Wake up, go to school, come home; that’s how my life in elementary school was. Nofriends, nobody to talk to. Reading this may stir up a chuckle from one reader, or a tearfrom another. Regardless of whatever response was triggered, there’s a largermessage here. Participating in the art(music, dance, theatre, painting etc…) provideplentiful benefits. I had a personal story, benefiting from the emotional benefits, butthere are also tons of academic benefits! Students who participate in the arts are fourtimes more likely to win an award for academic achievement compared to those whoare not (Americans for the Arts par. 1). Over the years the arts have been a significantpart of the education system in America and have proven to be more than just a subjectwhere students grind to retain information for a week in preparation for a test. The artsare more than just learning a formula or studying facts of the past; the arts are creativityat its best. There is nothing better to learn and understand than oneself. Butunfortunately, during a time of economic struggle, countless art, music, and theaterclasses have been cut to satisfy the demands of the state. Budget had cuts have beenmade left and right, approximately 30% to the arts, and school corporations take thesimple and uneducated decision, to cut the arts. Cutting the arts out of the schools,
primarily music, is not only harmful to the future of America, but harmful to the studentsthemselves. Creating a sense of pride, confidence, team and leadership skills, anddeveloping creativity is a necessity to acquiring the best education a student can get. A personal story doesnt stand for much, considering Im only one out of millionsart students, but out of a short survey with a sample size of thirty-four, twenty-seven ofthe students stated the arts was one of the best experiences they have ever had (DeBoth). Not only one of their best experiences but they also claimed they learned tonsfrom their experiences, and those twenty-seven claimed the arts helped them overcomea personal issue such as a lack in social skills, being shy, and/or a lack of confidence.A lack in social skills was my plight, but meeting some of the best people, and friends, inmy music classes helped me turn out of be an outgoing, friendly guy. Again a personalstory doesnt account for much, but it changed my life. And if 27 out of 34 studentsclaim to of had an experience, even somewhat similar to mine, thats millions ofstudents affected positively, academically, and emotionally because of the arts. If 27out of 34 students claim to the arts being one of their best experiences and helped themacademically, and you compare that to the population of America participating in thearts, that’s millions of students affected positively. The mental and emotional benefits ofthe arts expand farther than most know. It differs from person to person, but take thesong "The Sound of Silence" by Simon and Garfunkel. The soothing voices and smoothlyrics can be calming for many. Or take the new hit single, "Love the Way You Lie" byEminem. I hear it in the gym almost every night, because it gets many people "pumpedup" to work out. From a different perspective, take a famous film such as "Titanic" or"Schindlers List". The emotional impacts are created from the arts, and these films will
be timeless. The arts are a significant part of history, and aid in creating it. Theemotional benefits are extraordinary, but the academic benefits are amazing. An interesting fact, studying music stimulates the brain stem, meaning anincreased performance in retaining and successfully learning information. The artsprove to boost academic performance. "The arts make a tremendous impact on thedevelopmental growth of every child and has been proven to help level the "learningfield" across socio-economic boundaries" (Young 1). An interesting study fromStandford University states students participating in the arts are four times more likely tobe recognized for academic achievement, three times more likely to be elected to classoffice within their schools, four times more likely to participate in a math and sciencefair, three times more likely to win an award for school attendance, and are four timesmore likely to win an award for writing an essay or poem (Americans for the Arts par. 2.If that doesnt convey a message about the academic benefits for the arts, then so be it,take away the arts. Besides form academics, these benefits transfer past middle andhigh school. The sense of pride and leadership skills developed pass on to the “realworld”. Potentially students are more-so prepared than their peers in some aspects.Developing good attendance, confidence, and team skills is definitely a step up in the“real world” with professional careers. Unfortunately, in our current economic position, money holds back thesecurricular classes, hurting the future of America. The one main argument against thearts education is the cost of holding such classes. Sure, its expensive to keep teachersand purchase instruments, but the benefits cant be compared to the cost of money. Tohave a young teenager proud of his accomplishments with the arts, whether it be
pottery, guitar, saxophone, singing, it should be enough for school districts to realize theimportance. Some may argue the students in the United States are falling behind inmath, science, and history; but music, studied from an early age develops these skillsand prepares students for the concepts learned in later years. Counting music developsbasic addition, subtraction, and division. Music can be related to physics and soundwaves. Why some instruments produce larger, or lower frequency, sound waves, whileothers produce high frequency waves. We learn about foreign wars in world history, butnothing is said about the history of music, dance, or theatre. The arts can combine allthese subjects very easily, and it’s a goal of music educators. Here are two principlesfor music educators, taken from the MENC (National Association for Music Educationpar. 1); understanding relationships between music, the other arts, and disciplinesoutside the arts, and understanding music in relation to history and culture. The goal ofmany of the art subjects is to connect it with other disciplines. Taking away the sense of confidence, pride, critical thinking, teamwork, anddedication from their future is blasphemy in a sense. Developing a certain level orartistic ability, or capabilities on an instrument creates confidence. Improvisingmelodies promotes critical thinking, which is a huge push in Indiana public schools.Playing in an ensemble requires team skills; listening for intonation and doing your partof the work is required to perform a piece well. Its imperative the future of Americahave the best education that they can have. Dont cut the education fund, cut anythingelse; maybe the trillions of dollar for the military? The benefits of the Arts outnumbermost other educational experiences. It helps mature and individualize who we are.Studying the emotional, mental, and academic benefits from the Arts clearly states the
importance that theyve created. If school officials knew the importance of the Arts,whether it be music, painting, or even graphic imaging, I firmly believe programs wouldnot be cut to appease the budget cuts that are being asked of many, if not all schoolcorporations. Secretary of Education Rod Paige sums it up well: The arts, perhaps more than any other subject, help students understand themselves and others, whether they lived in the past or are living in the present. The arts allow us to explore new worlds and to view life from another perspective. (par. 4)During a time of economic recession, creativity cannot be cut. The Arts provide notonly an academic escape, but also an outlet for emotional expression. Do not cut musicand art to appease the state; lower energy costs, support fundraisers, or even put a taxon fast food to help raise money for education. America needs to be the place whereeducation is best, don’t you agree?
Works CitedDe Both, Mitchell. "Survey for the Arts." Unpublished Survey, 2010.National Association for Music Education. National Standards for Music Education. MENC, 2010. Web. 13 Nov. 2010."Secretary of Education Says NCLB Includes Arts." Teaching Music 12.2 (2004): 17. Academic Search Premier. EBSCO. Print. 16 Nov. 2010.Young, Jr., Terrence E. "KEEPING THE ARTS ALIVE." School Library Journal 51.2 (2005): 88. Academic Search Premier. EBSCO. Print. 16 Nov. 2010.