Editor's Note (The View From Here)

In Support of the Arts

There has been much talk about cutting the federal budget and on the list of cuts are cultural programs that receive federal funding. These include The Corporation for Public Broadcasting, the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities. This should not come as a surprise to us, seeing how many schools cut the arts when education budgets were slashed. In recent years however, I am seeing S.T.E.M. become S.T.E.A.M. and programs for the arts being added back into the curriculum. The reason is not because schools have become flush with money, but because many have realized that humanities and the arts inspire creativity and imagination in students and are important to the development of well-rounded individuals. The arts should not be viewed as a hobby, a diversion or an afterschool activity. They should be viewed as a necessary part of a student’s education.

A recent article by Muriel Gray that appeared in the U.K. publication, The Spectator, states, “The benefits of the arts in learning are not subjective. Studies have proved conclusively that teaching children to read music and play an instrument in their early years can increase their IQ. Hands-on participation in art and design is essential to building an understanding of the visual world. Drama makes sense of a complex emotional world, and interpretive movement can be considerably more beneficial than many sports in promoting body awareness, fitness, balance and a sense of beauty.”

Albert Einstein, one of the greatest physicists of all time, studied piano and violin. He was quoted as saying “The greatest scientists are artists as well. When I examine myself and my methods of thought, I come close to the conclusion that the gift of imagination has meant more to me than any talent for absorbing absolute knowledge.” (Calaprice, 2000). Einstein said that he never thought in logical symbols or mathematical equations, but in images, feelings and even musical architectures (Wertheimer, 1959).

The report, “Champions of Change: The Impact of the Arts on Learning”, found that the arts can help change the learning environment to one of discovery… and that is what learning is all about. Education is about more than just memorizing facts. It’s about using all of the tools in our toolbox to help students succeed and includes the arts.

I am a perfect example of an arts education. Did studying music in college help me in my current career? You bet it did. I still may not be able to play the piano very well, but I learned so much more. I learned about personal responsibility as well as teamwork. I developed both analytical and listening skills. School wasn’t only about studying; it was about experiencing. That is something the arts can do and something I wish for every student.

This article originally appeared in the February 2017 issue of School Planning & Management.

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