Don't be fooled. I have witnessed firsthand how a quality Art Education in California public schools can affect state test scores and grades. Below you will find my explanation of why the Arts are significant in public education and why it is important to stop eliminating them.
Benefits of a quality arts program.
Students who participate in a quality arts program benefit in several ways. It develops their critical thinking skills, artistic abilities, self-confidence, social interaction, and their enthusiasm for arts and other core subject areas. While many may believe the visual arts is merely consisting of developing drawing, painting, sculpting, and graphic design abilities, a quality visual arts program will also challenge students to develop observational acuity skills (learning how to see better) and envisioning skills (learning how to generate mental images). Last and most important, students can explore, create, invent, all while learning and having fun.
Components of a quality visual arts program
• The Creative and Productive Component
• The Cultural and Historical Component
• The Critical and Responsive Component
The key components to a quality arts education program consist of creativity, exploring history and culture, and reflection through discussion and critiques. The rationale for these components consist of several reasons: a) during the creative process, students have the opportunity to perceive and employ art in a unique way. Students have a chance to exercise their ability to see what is in front of them and create it using various mediums. They are also encouraged to create imaginative, avant-garde, original works of art. This skill is harder than one may think. Students will need to see and understand the elements of design; line, shape, form, color, hue, space, texture, value, and intensity. They also need to understand and apply the principles of art; balance contrast, emphasis, movement, pattern, rhythm, and unity, b) while learning culture and art history, students are able to understand how art developed from the prehistoric and renaissance era, to modern and contemporary art. Students also have the opportunity to visit how art influences different cultures and apply aspects of their own culture to their productions of art, and c) during the reflection process, students are able to discuss newly learned art concepts, apply visual arts terminology and critically verbal assess themselves, and other classmates for any successes or future improvements needed. Last, students participate in aesthetic valuing, which explores the essential features of art, taste, creation, and the appreciation of beauty in the course of a philosophical discussion.
Rationale for arts education in middle and secondary schools.
While art programs are usually the first to be eliminated due to economic cuts, it is fiscally logical to keep them. Middle and secondary school art teachers educate up to triple the number of students than any other teacher in core educational courses. When arts classes are cut, students are displaced and more teachers are needed to cover them all, as oppose to art classrooms where it is common for teachers to have up to 90 students for each class period. In addition to knowledge and skills development, arts education develops different kinds of cognitive abilities and habits of the mind for each student. Finally, arts education has ancillary benefits. Multiple intelligences are used through integration, which helps increase literacy and raise test scores in all academic subjects.
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Nathan, L. (2008). Why the arts make sense in education. Phi Delta Kappan, 90(3), 177-177-181. Retrieved from: .
Valerie Strauss. (2010). The value of arts education: A video. Retrieved June 25, 2011 from: http://voices.washingtonpost.com/answer-sheet/arts-education/the-value-of-arts-education-a.html.