Math…Science…Literature…History…Art? Is art really necessary in K-12 education? Well, according to the Welch Medical Library, when asked, 41% of students who nearly dropped out of high school reported that the arts were what kept them in school. Many would also say that the arts are a way to bring people together to work towards a common goal or to find common ground. It often times speaks where words cannot.
For example, visual arts can be many things; an expression of someone’s views of the world, an interpretation of life, or simply a random creative illustration. Theatrical arts can be the ultimate imitation of life, history and emotion. And music is a universal language that anyone can understand no matter their sex, race, religion or cultural background.
Yet the arts are at risk. With budget cuts in schools all over the country, art departments are among the first to be sacrificed. In many schools where classroom space has become limited, art “studios” have to be wheeled around from classroom to classroom, which ultimately limits art education.
Studies conducted by The Arts In Action Committee have shown that arts education actually fosters brain development, especially of the creative and intuitive right brain functions. It also has been shown to improve communication, cognitive skills, and academic study in other areas such as math, science, literature and history. Art can enhance learning in core subjects? How?
For one, math is everywhere in music. A student needs to know how to count, keep a beat, read time signatures, quarter notes, eighth, sixteenth and even thirty-sixth notes. When making a painting or sculpture, an artist needs to have exact measurements as well as the ability to identify patterns, angles, and make lines of congruency. A musician or actor also needs to have a clear understanding of acoustics which are essential for projecting sound on stage, which can relate to science. There is also biology in music. Musicians must use techniques such as diaphragmatic breathing and relaxing the larynx to improve resonance, pitch and tone quality.
Literature - it is pretty obvious how literature relates to the arts. Almost every song written is or was a poem at one time or another. It is through the riddles and metaphors that some of the strongest messages have been formed. Whether it be in music or translated through a story. This is extremely useful for an actor in the performing arts. An actor needs to be able to read and comprehend the context of a story, such as understanding the plot, the build, the conflict, climax, resolution, characters’ motivations and various methods of foreshadowing. Therefore, the theater is the place where a student is able to apply all the things they’ve learned in English classes on the stage.
All in all, art is essential to human development. It is a release for some and a way of life for others. It has transcended through time and is constantly evolving. It’s often what brings people together even in the roughest of times and has proven over and over to be necessary to create a more well rounded education and individual.