While there has never been a question of the value of English, mathematics or science in education, there has been a widely disputed gap in the value attributed to the arts. The areas of visual arts, drama, dance, music and photography are sometimes considered to be 'fluffier' subjects than the hard hitting disciplines that mark whether or not a student will be successful as an adult. The arts can therefore be considered more costly, both in monetary terms and time management.
I have friends who completed their undergraduate degrees in visual arts and art history. While they would never question that the pursuit of these degrees fulfilled their passion and love of learning, they do feel the deficit of fewer career opportunities than students who completed degrees in science or mathematics.
So, why are the arts so important?
Over the years, arts education has been placed under the microscope. What were once thought of as 'filler' subjects have now gained notoriety as essential learning areas for students. The arts have now gained their rightful place on the same shelf as English, mathematics and science. Here are a few important reasons why:
1) The arts can help students excel in other subject areas. Diverse learners often require alternative pathways so that they can grasp complex learning concepts. By incorporating or combining the arts into other subject areas, many students are now better able to make connections and understand more challenging concepts.
2) The arts allow students to be creative. Exposing students to different aspects of arts education predispositions them to be imaginative, exploratory and creative. They are able to visualize abstract concepts or see beauty in non-traditional environments. It provides students with a different avenue to be considered a genius outside of the classic origins of the term.
3) The arts are therapeutic. Art can provide an outlet for feelings of anger, frustration, sadness, loneliness or jealousy. It provides an alternative way to express feelings or identify emotions that lay beneath the surface. Students have the opportunity to explore different parts of their identities and share their innermost thoughts and feelings in a medium that cannot always be expressed through calculations or words.
The arts is an important part of learning and self-discovery. Students should be provided with every opportunity to learn and express themselves in order to share their understanding of themselves and the world around them.
Art can help students to understand things better than ever. It all gives then the environment for fun with learning.