To teach art in schools can be obvious to some. How can we go without? What if kids have an artistic talent to be discovered? For others, the debate can go the other way. Why is art important to teach? If student time and school budgets are stretched, is it more important to focus on math and reading, and cut art altogether?
Of course, art comes in various forms when taught at school. It can be visual art, yes (like painting, graphic design, photography or sculpture). But it can also include theatre, dance, music, poetry and writing. Some may even say it includes languages, baking, decorating or esthetics training. And so, the debate over whether it’s important to teach art in schools can bring up specifics.
However, we won’t be getting into those specifics in this article. Instead, we’ll point out reasons art, in general, is important to teach, for the value it brings to wholesome education.
- Benefits of teaching kids music at an early age – School is Easy Tutoring
- Kid’s health: how music heals students
- 5 educational gifts for kids that inspire artistic creativity
1) Art teaches kids skills they can use in other disciplines
This article, expounds the effects of budget cuts to arts programs. The creative process involved in producing art is integral to learning. Kids don’t just learn how to produce art for art’s sake. The author puts it this way:
If we teach kids loads of math and science but don’t encourage their creativity, they aren’t going to grow up to be great engineers and scientists and inventors and discoverers
“…Creativity is about helping to solve the world’s many problems.”
In essence, the need for art in relation to subjects like math and science can be seen with the recent STEAM movement. That is, turning the acronym, “STEM”, which stands for “science, technology, engineering, math,” into “science, technology, engineering, ART, math.” Thus, “STEAM.”
We’ve written about these topics in more depth at the following links:
- How the push for STEM education in Canada could change your child’s future
- How STEAM learning is changing STEM subjects, and why it matters
- What is the Maker education movement, and how can it help your kids’ education?
2) Art can teach students’ brains how to think, and develop
This author for the Huffington Post explains that art in the form of music, is just as important as math when it comes to learning “life skills,” and principled lessons.
Googling this subject, you’ll find no shortage of scholarly or expert ‘proof’ that art is important to brain development. Here is an explanatory quote from one article on ascd.org (an education organization’s site):
From fine-tuning muscular systems to integrating emotion and logic, the arts have important biological value. For their unique contributions to brain development, the arts must take center stage in schools.”
3) Art can give kids the opportunity for self-directed learning, without boundaries and criticism
When kids at school engage in art, there is a lot of experimentation involved. Sure, with music, they start with learning notes and how to read structured sheets of ‘instructions’ on where to place their fingers, or how long to hold a note. And in painting, they are taught how fractions of colour mixes create new colours (do we sense some math learning here?). But once those basic skills are taught – whether by trial and error or with a teacher – more advancement can be made in their creations.
Then, kids can make their own decisions of what they want to produce. They can also learn that ‘anything goes’ when it comes to creativity. They can self-critique. They can learn how to fix their mistakes and still make something beautiful. They can also avoid the fear of failure and, for once, not be told they got the answers wrong. This article expounds on those aforementioned points in more detail.
In short, with the above considered, it seems art can help with the development of a child’s confidence, enabling them to take charge without limits. It’s a balance to structured learning, which is also needed for character development, wouldn’t you say?
To conclude: art doesn’t have to be an either-or decision
We know art is important in school. While it may not seem like it can translate into a person’s ‘important’ career (which is false, by the way), it can still have an impact in education. And, as we’re seeing, instead of art being it’s own, separate class, some educational curriculums are incorporating it into the way other subjects are learned. This falls right into the path of using different learning styles to help students grasp information.
That way, teaching art – and allowing it to enhance learning – doesn’t need to fall under the pressure of budget cuts or student time.