Education and the Arts
by Errica Moran
Class of 2016
Stimulated brain activity, better recall and communication skills. Math class? No, art and music class. Society values the skills that are found in the common core classes as they prepare for more employable fields, such as engineering or teaching. Thus, to increase potential, schools believe they need to increase classroom time by cutting visual and performing arts classes. However, due to scientific research and statistical data, schools should continue to fund music and art classes as students have just as high or more success rates, than students who pursue the math the sciences.
Art and music classes are a chance for children to express themselves, and be creative. Not only do kids learn how to express themselves, but according to U.S. News, children who play a musical instrument at least 30 minutes a week, have highly developed brains. There is no doubt that algebra can stimulate the brain, however music and painting trains the mind to listen and look at the world in new and creative ways, making the arts to be just as stimulating as the maths and sciences. Yet numerous school districts firmly believe that the most employable fields derive from a student’s common core classes, therefore to increase success, they need to increase time spent in the classroom, thus cutting funds to arts programs. It is understandable that parents do not want to have to worry about whether or not their child is bussing tables for a living because he studied art, rather than a successful chemist who is making hundreds of thousands of dollars a year. But scientists have found that parents should encourage their children to pursue careers in the arts as brain development and capacity increases with lessons in the arts, so if students are not allowed to let their minds grow and be expressive, then the future of the world will be stunted. Most of the time, the issue is that the arts are seen as “extras” and lack educational value, and that unless they help achieve passing scores on standardized tests, they are not worth it. On the contrary, though students may not be learning facts and memorizing all that there is to know about history, the arts provide strong brain motor skills that will make a lasting impression. Simply because a class does not require numbers or analysis does not mean there is no educational value. Certain math teachers will even say that students will not use pre-calculus for the rest of their lives, but that the critical thinking skills that they have obtained will suit them later in life.
Now this is not saying that Braintree Public Schools is in any way shape or form, considering to cut visual and performing arts classes however, they should consider to add more classes especially for high school students. Within the elementary schools students are exposed to both the visual and performing arts with drawing and painting classes along with music/ chorus class and in 4th grade students are given the option to pursue a musical instrument. The elementary schools are not the issue. As students enter their high school years that is when the arts become only a memory.
Yes, there are graduation requirements of two semesters of an art. However, a student can fulfill their graduation requirements freshman year and then never set foot in an art class again. Or if they do, it is with reluctance. If students do not wish to continue in the arts that is okay, however those who do wish to continue in the arts should be given more options and opportunities. Especially if they wish to pursue the arts as a career. Because Braintree Schools are a public school system students are behind those who attend performing and visual arts institutions. For example, when students of the Theatre Guild go to compete at the Massachusetts Educational Theatre Guild Festival, their chances from moving on to the semi-finals from the preliminaries are slim because they are competing against schools who may not necessarily be performing arts schools, however they do offer classes in the dramatic arts allowing them to rehearse and clean their work in the classroom.
Visual and Performing art programs should remain in school systems and should continue to be added to the curriculum as students develop better brain motor skills and activity that will help students longer throughout their life. The arts are definitely unconventional programs that do not follow the education norm and because the arts do not follow the usual education procedures, they are usually the first programs to be cut or added. However, the more that those schools begin to understand the benefits of the arts, the more they can become better integrated into the curriculum.
Errica Moran is a student in Advanced Placement English Language and Composition