Why Teach Art

In recent years, schools around the United States have been discontinuing arts and creative classes from their curriculum. The reason most cite for this is because tight budgets make it necessary for school systems to cut back on what they consider nonessential classes. I always thought it was funny, though, that when school cut back the arts, not sports, is the first to go. This demonstrates the double standard that exists in the school systems. What people fail to realize is that the arts is an important part in a child’s development.

I received my primary and secondary education before No Child Left Behind and the proliferation of standardized tests. At that time, art classes were a part of the school experience. As a matter of fact, it was mandatory to take at least one art or music class; you couldn’t graduate without an art class. Additionally, growing up with a mother who was a commercial artist made it hard for me to avoid the arts. Now, students can go through their entire childhood and never have an art experience. This is a travesty of justice.

Exposure to art is important for children because studies show that other educational skills are enhanced when they experience the arts. Children learn to view the world in a less linear perspective and can think outside of the norm. If they see a painting by Monet, they can form their own opinions of what the artist was trying to convey when working on the work. Thus, art is essential to children becoming a critical thinker in other classes, especially when it comes to formulating ideas for essays.

From a purely aesthetic perspective, art makes children see the beauty that exists in the world. Today, children are so bombarded with technology and plugged in almost constantly. Many of them don’t even know what a real painting looks like. Pictures have been replaced with flat screen televisions or home theater systems. Their parents fail to teach them the importance of creativity, doing something with your hands.

Students who are not taught art have a hard time when they go to college because at least one art class is mandatory, no matter what the student is majoring. As a tutor at a university, I’ve worked with so many students that don’t know how to write a critical analysis on a piece of art. They don’t understand why they have to do that or they say it’s stupid. What they don’t realize is that being able to analyze arts can transcend into the business world. Even in business, creative thinking may be necessary to solve problems.

I appreciate the fact that I was exposed to the arts. Although I found out that I couldn’t draw or paint like my mother, I think it helped me see the world from a different perspective. The arts also proved to be my gateway to music and writing, two artistic endeavors in which I have had a measure of success. So, arts may help students move toward their destinies.