By Omar El-Bandrawy, Jasmine Lewis, Jesse San Miguel and Caden Vu
Education takes many forms, such as lectures, reading and homework. Another way people are taught is through the use of art as an educational device. Art can be used to teach people more creative skills and can provide variety from the core school subjects.
Even though it is not treated the same as other subjects, art has been shown to have a positive impact on mental health. According to Nicola Slawson, the social affairs journalist at the Guardian, “An evaluation revealed a 71% decrease in feelings of anxiety and a 73% fall in depression; 76% of participants said their well-being increased and 69% felt more socially included.” It’s shown that doing a creative activity, such as art, increases your overall well-being.
Even with these advantages, art doesn’t get the same amount of resources as other subjects. According to Keira Quintero, a woman who teaches Pre-K to fifth grade music, “Students in suburban areas receive more instruction in the arts than other areas in the state while access in urban schools varies and is highly dependent on the size of the district and the school. Students in rural and small school districts receive the least amount of instruction in arts education.” Students in urban areas lack the resources necessary to have a proper art program. This is unfortunate because arts are an important part of students’ education.
Despite having a crucial role in academics, other subjects are often prioritized over art, which is taken less seriously. Art is not given the same time and resources as subjects like math and English.
According to Richard Adams, an education editor at the Guardian, “More than half of the teachers also said they did not have the resources or support to deliver ‘high quality’ arts education, with a higher proportion among teachers in the north of England, while just 20% said they had the resources they required.” Teachers are not given the tools they need to properly educate their students, which means students will not get the full education they deserve.
Tahoma’s Video Production teacher, Vincent Nelson, explained what he believes is important about learning the arts: “You have to learn how to collaborate … You have to learn how to use your equipment … Collaboration is key. It teaches you how to be social, how to have fun. I think that the arts are, for most people, put on a lower scale than the academics. I don’t even like how that is even said, because, for me, art is academic.”
Mr. Nelson also explained how he believes art should be used more educationally in schools. “I would say more, especially because some schools don’t even have it. It’s called an elective, it’s like this is for fun. You can choose to do so, not that it should be done and I don’t like the lingo behind that.”
A few of the students in Tahoma’s drama course explained how the arts could impact their lives. “It’s an interest I could pursue further in life … I could get money from it,” said Elijah Quincy, a Tahoma freshman.
Another Tahoma freshman, Iona Robinson, said, “It helps us to have a different angle on things if we’ve never thought about it before. It helps us to see differently than we usually do on things, which forces us to go deeper into our learning because of our curiosity.”
Tahoma freshman Hannah Gibson
A third Tahoma freshman, Hannah Gibson, said, “Personally, I think drama is helpful for stuff like presentations. It makes you comfortable in front of the audience during public speaking.”
Tahoma’s Stage Combat teacher, Keith Brown, explained why he thinks art is important in education: “Anything can be used as an educational tool if you’re smart about it. But the whole thing about art is that it activates your brain in a different way that math does, and in a much more exciting way right. Art classes teach different skills then STEM classes. STEM classes are very analytical, very problem-solving-oriented. Visual Arts, Video Production, Drama, Stage Combat … those are lessons that you learned that activate more creative centers of your brain. And a chance for you to figure out your beliefs and ideas. It’s what reminds us to be human.”
Mr. Brown also explained why he thinks the arts aren’t given as many resources as other subjects: “They’re not given as much of a priority because art isn’t designed to make money. Computer science is designed to make money. Engineering, designed to make money. Math, you’re a mathematician you can make money. Not as much in art, it’s a creative, soulful pursuit instead of a monetary [pursuit]. And because the United States is a capitalist system, it’s seen as, quote-unquote, lesser.”
Tahoma’s Visual Arts teacher, Mathew Scicluna, described his beliefs about art in education: “I think art is used every day as an educational tool because art gives you the main skill of problem-solving: you are presented with a problem, so how do you draw this or how do you paint, or how do you create lighting in a two-dimensional surface, and you have to then use your brain to put these techniques together to create an answer for this. So art is looked at as a visual aid … But actually, arts creating all these other skills that build on the problem-solving format.”
Mr. Scicluna also explained that he believes art should be implemented more in schools: “I believe it should be implemented more, especially because our society is now pushing more towards the academic brain which is more math, science, history. But that’s creating a very chiseled down type of a human and it makes people very one-sided … in their mind. Whereas when you create more art … you’re able to problem solve better, you’re able to be more creative in the way you attack a math equation or attack an engineering problem, it will only create a better human in our society.”
Art is a creative tool that can be used to help children learn skills that aren’t taught in academic subjects. Echoing Ms. Quintero’s words, “Quality fine arts programs are vital to a child’s education and all children deserve access to such programs.” Art helps kids learn important social skills which will benefit them later in life, thus emphasizing its importance in the educational system.