Is Art Education Necessary in High School?
May 30, 2018
Why Art Education in High School isn’t Necessary
Art classes. They can be fun, intriguing, boring, even confusing. Arts classes can be described by many adjective but necessary is not one of them. I take no issue with the fact that the classes are offered, and even take a number myself, and I am not even advocating for their removal. However, they are not necessary to the success of students.
One of the biggest argument for art education is that it results in better test scores and higher grades. The simple fact that this is the best point art-education advocates can make is very telling. If the classes are considered essential due to their positive impact on grades, then perhaps that time spent on art should just be allocated to other courses or more free time that allow students to manage their workload in a better way. Evidence that links art education to academic success is limited, and is a prime example of the difference between causation and correlation. While it is true that students who take art classes generally have higher GPAs, that is not proof that art classes are the cause of that difference. This sentiment is echoed by Ellen Winner, a who is part of an arts education program at Harvard. Winner states that “when kids take a lot of art [classes], they don’t improve in their core subject areas,”. The success can be attributed to a number of factors, such as the fact that students with lower GPAs may not be at liberty to take more art classes.
In Glen Rock High School, a student is required to take a certain number of art classes, which can be taking valuable time away from other, more enriching courses, or option time which can be extremely beneficial to those taking a high number of AP or Honors courses. Why should students who are disinterested in the arts be forced to take an art course simply so they can acquire the credits? This takes nothing away from those students that have a genuine interest in the arts, but I believe that students, especially those who are involved with extracurriculars such as sports and clubs, would benefit exponentially from more time to get their work done.
In 2010, a Sacramento school system passed a bill that replaced art in schools with career training programs for students. STEM programs and other courses relating to preparing students for the ‘real world’ are likely more useful than art classes. Once again, this is not to say that art classes should be eliminated, rather change the way we look at them and their significance.
We must remember what is actually necessary in education, which is to prepare them for success and prosperity in the next step of their lives. A study released by the Education Trust found that only 8 percent of recent graduates have taken a “foundational set of courses they’d need to be both college- and career-ready.” In addition, it is not to say that money is everything, but it is worth noting that most of the top earners in the liberal arts end up matching only the bottom earners in the STEM fields.
None of this piece is meant to belittle the arts or those who have passion for them. However, schools across America should realize that art education is unnecessary.
Art Education in High School is Necessary
There are a plethora of art careers that can be achieved from being educated and skilled in the artistic field. Graphic design, photography, illustration, and anything classified as a creative field has relation to art. High school as well as grade school art classes teach their students about the basics that they need to develop their creativity and educate them about art culture. Art is a way for kids and teenagers to express themselves passively, and by taking that away from them, we are taking away a healthy and safe environment. Kids who take art classes may not necessarily be pursuing an art career, but taking the class for the free breather after a day of working in major core classes.
We go to school so that we can learn how to function as an adult in the big bad world. This includes finding a path, and discovering what makes you the best person that you can be. Art, as well as Math or Rocket science, are all callings that different individuals pursue. Every student differs in their own ability and mindset.
Writing itself is a form of artwork. Some of the best poems and sonnets come from artists in the form of their words. The term “art” being used as creative expression, proves that one doesn’t need a brush or a crayon to make something artistic. Art is shown in the ways that you think through something, the ways you show emotion towards it. A skill that can be nourished through study and hard work.
The New York Times wrote an article, Book Tackles Old Debate: Role of Art in Schools. It explains how some people do not agree with the concept of having art classes in schools due to the lack of importance or need for the field and usefulness. Needless to say, the art world was not happy by this, and decided to research the outcomes of art students scores compared to a non art students GPA and SAT scores. The results of that research was that scores were higher for those who had this art elective in their classes. Though later deemed to be circumstantial evidence, it DID prove that the “art school dropout” mindset of most students was in fact false.
Art class is known to be an easy A. If you asked a random selection of any highschool that provided a basic art class, you would find that the majority of its students taking art were taking the course for the sole purpose of lightening their academic load. It is nearly impossible to grade someone on their ability and how they decide to express themselves. Many students who decide to take up the arts, will take classes outside of school because of how loosely restricted their school art class is. As the art world has many options, students take a numerous amount of non-school related courses to narrow down what they want to do. Initially this seems like the better option, as electives and classes could be run outside of school to build ones skills in that course. Though, keep in mind, it has the same effect as taking a science course for an art student. It has no value to them now, but it keeps them learning and has value in its knowledge and the skills it provides its students in teamwork and analytical mindsets.
Without some sort of art form, students would be lost in piles of work and 8 hour days of pure work and for some, even agony. With art electives and the ability to stray from the pushing and aggressive path of business and algebra classes, many students have found peace in the hour of painting, photography, or creative writing that they have. To take away someone’s ability to doodle, you ultimately take away their ability to express their inner thoughts. Art has proven itself to be a healthy safe space that if taken away, would not benefit all students.