The Importance of Fine Arts Education
Education in the arts is an integral part of the development of each human being. Those who have studied learning processes throughout the ages, beginning with Plato, have emphasized the importance of the arts in the education process. Study in the arts is integral to our society. They are a part of the cultural heritage of every American. The arts are what make us most human, most complete as people.
Sufficient data exists to overwhelmingly support the belief that study and participation in the fine arts is a key component in improving learning throughout all academic areas. Evidence of its effectiveness in reducing student dropout, raising student attendance, developing better team players, fostering a love for learning, improving greater student dignity, enhancing student creativity, and producing a more prepared citizen for the workplace for tomorrow can be found documented in studies held in many varied settings, from school campuses, to corporate America.
Evidence from brain research is only one of many reasons education and engagement in fine arts is beneficial to the educational process. The arts develop neural systems that produce a broad spectrum of benefits ranging from fine motor skills to creativity and improved emotional balance. One must realize that these systems often take months and even years to fine-tune. In a study conducted by Judith Burton, Columbia University, research evidenced that subjects such as mathematics, science, and language require complex cognitive and creative capacities “typical of arts learning” (Burton, Horowitz, & Abeles, 1999). “The arts enhance the process of learning. The systems they nourish, which include our integrated sensory, attentional, cognitive, emotional, and motor capacities, are, in fact, the driving forces behind all other
learning” (Jensen, 2001).
The fine arts also provide learners with non-academic benefits such as promoting self-esteem, motivation, aesthetic awareness, cultural exposure, creativity, improved emotional expression, as well as social harmony and appreciation of diversity. These are the very fibers of the fabric known as our American culture.
The following are findings reported in Champions of Change: The Impact of the Arts on Learning (Fiske, 1999) that should be noted by every parent, teacher, and administrator:
The arts reach students not normally reached, in ways and methods not normally used, which leads to better student attendance and lower dropout rates. It changes the learning environment to one of discovery.
Students connect with each other better. The results are fewer fights, greater understanding of diversity, and greater peer support.
The arts provide challenges to students of all levels.
Students learn to become sustained, self-directed, independent learners. The study of fine arts positively impacts the learning of students of lower socioeconomic status as much or more than those of a higher socioeconomic status.
The study of fine arts is important because they engage many areas of the brain and also have far-reaching effects on the learner’s mind (Jensen, 2001). The arts promote the understanding and sharing of culture. They promote social skills that enhance the awareness and respect of others. The fine arts enhance perceptual and cognitive skills.
The Burton study of more than 2000 children found that those in the arts curriculum were far superior in creative thinking, self-concept, problem-solving, self-expression, risk-taking, and cooperation than those who were not (Burton et al., 1999).
The arts have the capacity to engage everyone. There are no barriers of race, religion, culture, geography, or socioeconomic levels.
Today’s world is witness to the Internet and Information Age. The primary sources of content information are no longer teacher lectures or textbooks, but the internet search engines, online databases, video games, apps and other software.
Learning is not limited to what you know, but is dependent upon how to find information and how to use that information quickly, creatively, and cooperatively.
“As the artificial intelligence becomes prominent in all aspects of our lives, the society will place a new value on the one human ability that can’t be automated or replicated: emotion. In the near future all repetitive jobs will be performed by AI robots, only creative thinking and problem solving, emotional intelligence and connectivity, will be irreplaceable.” ADINNA®
Students need to be thinkers, possess people skills, be problem-solvers, demonstrate creativity, and work as a member of a team. We need to offer more in-depth learning about the things that matter the most: order, integrity, thinking skills, a sense of wonder, truth, flexibility, fairness, dignity, contribution, justice, creativity and cooperation. The arts provide all of these.
Perhaps the most fundamental element to education one should consider is the manner in which we perceive and make sense of the world in which we live.
An effective education in the fine arts helps students to see what they look at, hear what they listen to, and feel what they touch.
Engagement in the fine arts helps students to stretch their minds beyond the boundaries of the printed text or the rules of what is provable.
Imagine the benefits of seeking, finding, and developing multiple solutions to the myriad of problems facing our society today!