Monday, October 7, 2013

Why I Think The Arts Are Important In Education

   I am very lucky in my daughter's school system. She goes to a public school, and we all know that often the music and art and creative-type classes are often the first things cut from public educational programs. The focus now is on reading and math, which are very, very important subjects, don't get me wrong. You can all probably understand the way I feel about reading -- so, so important. But I don't feel that this should be at the exclusion of the creative arts. For me, I see these things as things that expand a child's creative process; their imagination. Being imaginative is important in all walks of life; just imagine if no scientist, no doctor, no teacher ever asked the question "What if?", daring to imagine that something could be different. I think without creativity we would become a stagnant culture, never growing, never changing.
   So to me, arts are an extremely important subject. But my daughter's school system has not cut the arts from the educational budget. From kindergarten to fifth grade, she was in a required music class. All the kids were, and they put on concerts as part of the grade, and parents were expected to participate by coming to see the kids sing. I never mind participating in my child's education, in fact, I try to be very involved, and this was a fun way to be involved.
   However, many children are part of a system that have cut music and art programs. The funding just isn't there in all the cases that I know about, and that is a terrible thing. You may not understand the importance of the programs, but in my own opinion they are vitally important. My daughter has had a music program from day one of her education. While she has not had regular art classes, the teachers incorporated art in the learning process, and the kids could earn an extra art class through good behavior, so at the least, the element of art was there. If another reason for art and music is needed besides the expansion and nurturing of creativity, then look at the enjoyment that children have in these activities. The activities can make a child want to actually be in school. If the kids want to be there, and are having fun, they are going to learn much better than a child who desperately wants to be somewhere else.
   I just know that after five years of a mandatory music class, my daughter chose to continue to sing in the choir as her elective. And if she had chosen not to continue in honor choir, there were other musical and art based choices for her. I am not saying that everyone has to be all artsy or musical -- I am neither myself -- but to me, taking that knowledge out of the public education system is a foolish move. Of course, schools are up against budget cuts while having to serve larger and larger groups of kids, so I understand that leaving in the 'nonessential' programs are difficult, but at the same time, they all manage to keep their multitudes of sports teams. Strange that -- not that I am against sports. I am just saying, keep it balanced. Our kids need a creative outlet in their education, just as much as they need physical activity, math, and reading.
One of my daughter's school art projects from elementary. It's still on the fridge too. I love it. 

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