There are finally some studies that are starting to prove what I have been saying all along. Art classes in schools help students improve across the curriculum. In The New York Times, a study was finally reported in the article “Guggenheim Study Suggests Arts Education Benefits Literacy Skill” by Randy Kennedy. It just seems that such reports only come out every once in awhile. The news that is reported more regularly points toward cutting art classes from schools because they believe that schools need to concentrate more on reading, writing and arithmetic.
The problem is that these decisions are normally made by people who have no idea about the education process. All they understand are money and regulations. When we place our problems in the hands of legislatures, that’s what we can expect. Politicians take a look at the schools and see an art budget. They ask what impact art has on our students. But, not enough studies back the fact that art impacts learning across the curriculum.
Memorization of facts and repetition of processes are low level learning skills that seem to make the politicians happy. But, learning how to learn and solving problems are higher level thinking skills that students actually need. Art is a constant exercise of these skills.
The No Child Left Behind initiative actually increases student time spent on math and reading. Often cutting time spent on art, the schools deny students of the learning they need. When studying art, students are more likely to be able to describe their thoughts in greater detail, reason better with multiple critical factors, and predict findings from the information they have been given. Students without a strong art background are less likely to be able to think on those levels or to reach such thinking levels effectively.
It’s like we’re moving backward instead of forward. With all of the findings pointing towards the benefits of art in our schools, it’s hard to believe why politicians and school boards are considering cutting art from the curriculum. As the debate rages, it will only help that we increase studies and keep reporting the findings. Our dim future of facts and figures will only change into a bright one with art and culture if we keep pressing our point the way the opposition does.