By MOLLY DUFFY
Assistant Editor, CTTeens
The classroom. A familiar setting we can all probably relate to and describe as a “love-hate relationship”. But why is this so? The grades, the stiff desks, the long classes, the confusions that come and go with learning new topics according to a schedule, the “busy work” (only intended to fill up class time), the list goes on, but all prove to make the idea of school a little unappealing. Tedious may be an understatement, but there is a solution to improving school that has actually been available all along.
The arts. Not only can the wide array of artistic pursuits provide at least one possibility for a curious individual to find something to enjoy, but clear statistics show the true benefits of arts in schools and in our lives. Benefits of art education in primary school include inventiveness, motor skills, decision making, and cultural awareness. (www.pbs.org/parents) And these benefits carry on all throughout secondary school through higher test scores, greater levels of concentration, confidence and team work skills. (www.edutopia.org) Alongside these drastic improvements in both mind and body, art involvement in education also proves to bring something else. A sense of discovery, enlightenment and happiness. “A 2005 report by the Rand Corporation about the visual arts argues that the intrinsic pleasures and stimulation of the art experience do more than sweeten an individual’s life — according to the report, they ‘can connect people more deeply to the world and open them to new ways of seeing,’”(www edutopia.org)
However, the availability of the arts in public schools is dwindling. According to the NCES’s (National Center for Education Statistics) “Arts Education and Secondary Schools 1999-2000 and 2009-2010” findings, “57 percent of public secondary schools indicated that coursework in the arts was a specific requirement for graduation in the 2009-2010 school year”. To put that in perspective, that is roughly only half of all public secondary schools in the U.S. Alongside the increase in standardized testing, less time and funding has been set aside for the arts. “Funds have been cut in more than 80 percent of U.S. school districts since 2008. The very first programs to go are often disciplines such as music, art and foreign language.” (www.usnews.com)
Drawing, painting, singing, dancing, and acting allow your individual creative genius to flow, your mind to develop, and for you to be the best you can be. And it is more than just an art advocate who acknowledges this call for arts in schools. Harvard President Drew Faust has recently described students overlooking the benefit of following their ‘interest in art or linguistics or any of the other humanity disciplines.’ (www.usnews.com) According to author, speaker, and education extraordinaire Ken Robinson for TED (Technology, Entertainment, Design) “creativity is as important as literacy”, he says, “and we should treat it as the same status.”