Art Education in High Schools

Today education has become a token of an advanced, healthy and competent society. In fact, modern education more than ever before is aiming to provide experiences that will be useful in life (Smith 153). In the process of deciding which activities are effective and should be included in the high school curriculum, a clash between opinions often arises. People especially disagree on the question of the necessity for art education. Some of them claim that the teaching of the arts should noot be included in high schools, whereas others say that art education is an inseparable part of schooling and people’s lives. Is it necessary then to include the arts in the high school curriculum? Yes. Art education should be required in high schools because it has a crucially important impact on students’ understandings, development, and transformation into considerate, intelligent, and interdependent members of society.

Notwithstanding, many people, including students, their parents, and educators, strongly object to compulsory art education. They saay that artistic disciplines at school occupy the precious time that might be devoted to more “serious” studies. Instead of drawing a nonsensical picture, a student, they say, could better cram for physics. The ignorance of the arts has also to

o do with an increasing focus on scientific and technological education (Barry 203). The antagonists of art education say that scientific and technological studies bring more apparent and tangible results, whereas the use of the arts can be only surmised. Additionally, technological education can benefit societies by creating new machines, devices, and medicine that would improve people’s lives. Consequently, the opposition says that as much time as possible should be devoted to technological and scientific studies. Another claim against the necessity of art education concerns the aptitudes and abilities of students. Some people are considered to be artistically incapable. Therefore the arts, the opposition suggests, should not be imposed on students against their wills and capabilities. The arts are also ignored beecause they are considered to be dealing only with emotions, not with the mind (Williams 66). Finally people tend to protest the required art education in high schools because few colleges require artistic experience in the admission process (Williams 66). Therefore, a number of people think that the arts in high schools are studied in vain.

Many years of observations and studies have shown, however, that the arts are an important school discipline that brings positive long-term results. The arts are no le
ess serious than any other discipline in the high school curriculum because they positively influence the attainment of the goals of education and provide valuable life experiences. The artistic studies bring intangible and somewhat hidden benefits that are as important as those brought by sciences and technology. Besides that, the avail of art education has been observed and clearly defined by many scholars. The arts contribute to the creation of a better life because they highly improve those aspects of human life that cannot be improved by technology and science. In addition, the assertions that some people are artistically incapable are not true. Different paths lead to aesthetic disciplines, and students may experience art education in many different ways. Their abilities develop at different rates, but no one is incapable of doing the arts (U.S. Department). As an educational psychologist Don Hamachek wrote, “One does not necessarily have to be a great composer or painter or writer or scientist to be creative” (202). In contrast to popular opinion, the arts involve not only emotions, but minds, too. Creating and appreciating images and sounds requires more mental activity than can be expected. (Williams 66). The arts should be part of the high school cu
urriculum because they have many positive impacts on students’ preparation for their college studies and personal lives.

The arts can become an enjoyable and appealing experience for every student (Kneller 238). The artistic disciplines may help students relax from tense work and monotonous activities (U.S. Department). Although the arts also incorporate the mind, they do not require such intense mental activity. Many students listen to music because they find it to be a form of entertainment and relaxation. Aesthetic studies can bring pleasure by enabling students to express their emotions and feelings (Barry 212). The Nobel Prize winner, physicist Richard Feynman, started to draw at the age of 44, though his paintings were “terrible” in high school. He said that drawing was the only way to express his feelings about the universe. Richard Feynman found this way of expression to be extremely appealing and joyful (Williams 66). The presence of the arts in high schools can help students find the path to their favorite activity. Art education indeed helps students to understand what people’s needs and interests are, as well as who they are themselves (Barry 212). The arts may also serve as a shelter protecting students from a tedious reality. Students, while performing the arts, ma
ay escape a boring daily routine and make their lives more interesting, sapid, and joyful.

The arts certainly increase students’ imagination and creativity (Nitzberg). By studying aesthetic disciplines in high schools, students may improve their abilities to find unique and original solutions to various problems (U.S. Department). It is true that the arts come from the imagination, but it is also true that the imagination is improved by the arts (Barry 207). In fact, imagination can help express any aspect of life and be useful in any life situation (Kneller 60). Art studies always result in the creation of something new, innovative, and currently nonexistent (Kneller 466). Some people may wonder what the actual use of imagination is. Imagination helps to answer philosophical questions that are important for leading a fulfilling life (U.S. Department). Only by raising those questions and trying to answer them can people find harmony and peace in their lives. As a result, the imagination serves not only as a factor in helping to answer philosophical questions, but also as a factor that helps to create a better inner life.

The arts are essential in the high school curriculum because they increase students’ understanding and objective judgment (Bennett 4). Art education brings insights that benefit the future life of an individual (Smith 155). Oftentimes a person who has received an education in art has a somewhat different conception of various phenomena than a person who has not been exposed to the arts. In a way, the arts form people’s knowledge about reality (Bronstein 385). Artistically educated people are more likely to have a clear conceptual picture of real life and notice small details that compose the whole image of reality. The arts also equip students with analytical skills and critical thinking (Nitzberg). Art education gives students the ability to perceive proportions, depths, sounds, and body language (Bennett 5). On the other hand, the lack of art education results in an inability to make a personal decision (Barry 207). In addition to that, art education gives people a clearer judgment of various facts. People with art education can more easily distinguish good from evil, or true from false. Overall, an art education enables people to make right judgments that contribute not only to the arts field, but to others as well (Williams 66).

Besides special understanding and judgment, art education teaches students to appreciate personal values. Students learn to determine the value and worth of certain things. After having taken a course in the arts, people more easily notice the distinguishing features of an object, which make that object unique (Kneller 466). The arts give an understanding of the human condition and thus help to know what moral values are (Barry 202). What is more, the arts develop not only artistic skills, but also artistic appreciation. They help to define and distinguish beauty (Smith 150). People who have underdeveloped artistic appreciation are often referred to as “people with no taste.” Art education forms people’s comprehension of values, thus creating artistic appreciation and developing a “taste.” Art helps people to create valuable harmony and order. As scholarly writer Jerrold Ross notes, “The arts present us with an order and discipline, a balance in the way we think and feel. It is not possible to create or respond to the arts without recognizing and reaching this equilibrium” (2). In the same way, creating art also brings an “equilibrium” or the balance between feelings and thoughts. More than that, art education teaches the “values of civility” that may help to avoid violence and crimes (Ross 2). Students studying the arts have a broader array of values that make their lives more meaningful.

Another argument why art education should be required in high schools is that art education has an impact on students’ academic achievement. (Bennett 4). Observations have shown that the arts motivate student commitment (Nitzberg). In addition, creative people who have been exposed to the arts have a sense of dedication and a tendency to engage in hard work (Hamachek 206). As a result, those students who work hard have better academic results and a higher possibility to achieve academic excellence. From these facts one can conclude that students who study the arts achieve higher academic standing. The arts enhance student performance not only in the humanities, but also in all the subjects of the high school curriculum (Bennett 4). Schools with an intensified art education have a higher performance environment. Students from these schools receive higher scores on the tests in other subjects, and their vocabulary and writing skills improve after they take an art course. In 1993 the UCLA Center for the Study of Evaluation discovered that students’ exposure to the arts brought positive results in all areas of study (Williams 66). The arts help students achieve academic success and create a successful future.

Another impact of art education is increased student communication skills, the ability to work in teams and to cooperate (Nitzberg). The arts are one of the basic communication tools. They can express many different feelings, emotions, and experiences (Williams 66). Knowing the arts helps people present issues and ideas, persuade, entertain, decorate, and please (U.S. Department). Students who have received art education are often better at oral and written communication (Williams 66). Creating arts, students learn to relate to other people better, and therefore, they more easily find consensus while working in teams (U.S. Department). Art education enhances communication and brings people together.
The arts contribute to creating society as a unit (Williams 66). All the communication skills that art education helps to develop bring an accord between members of society (Bennett 5). People become interdependent, which means that they behave in accordance to their neighbors’ needs, requirements, and freedoms. An interdependent society can achieve much more and help citizens lead a more happy life. On the other hand, lack of exposure to the arts results in an inhumane society (Barry 208). Only by studying the arts can students get familiar with the history of their culture and society, and understand the present better (Bennett 5). In addition to that, art education encourages relationships between societies. The arts enhance multicultural understanding and increase tolerance of cultural differences. Knowing civilizations well allows the modifying of human behavior (Ross 2).

The arts are a powerful tool in the education of society that can transform students and bring countless positive results. Art is an action, and like any other action, it brings change to the world (Dewey 135). By studying the arts, students develop their cognitive skills and learn to be of worthy character. It is the schools’ task now to understand the importance and necessity of the arts and to convince the opposition that art education should be required in high schools for the betterment of individuals and society. Educationist George Kneller once wrote that a person who has not received art education “dies a spiritual death and invites the twilight of civilization to descend upon us all” (61).

Works Cited
Barry, Vincent. Philosophy: a Text With Readings. Belmont: Wadsworth, 1980.
Bennett, William J. “Why the Arts Are Essential.” Educational Leadership 45. 4 (1987/88): 4-5. EBSCO.
Bronstein, Daniel J., et al. Basic Problems of Philosophy. Englewood Cliffs: Prentice-Hall, 1964.
Dewey, John. Democracy and Education. Toronto: Collier-Macmillan, 1966.
Hamachek, Don E. Psychology in Teaching, Learning, and Growth. Boston: Allyn and Bacon, 1979.
Kneller, George F. Foundations of Education. New York: John Wiley, 1963.
Nitzberg, Kevin. “Arts Advocacy.” 1999. 1 April 2004. .
Ross, Jerrold. “Civility.” Arts Education Policy Review 97. 1 (1995): 2. EBSCO.
Smith, Philip G. Philosophy of Education. New York: Harper and Row, 1965.
U.S. Department of Education. “Summary Statement: Education Reform, Standards, and the Arts.” 1995. 31 March 2004. .
Williams, Harold M. “Don’t Ignore the Arts.” USA Today Magazine 124. 2604 (1995): 66. EBSCO.

Works Consulted
Barry, Vincent. Philosophy: a Text With Readings. Belmont: Wadsworth, 1980.
Bennett, William J. “Why the Arts Are Essential.” Educational Leadership 45. 4 (1987/88): 4-5. EBSCO.
Bronstein, Daniel J., et al. Basic Problems of Philosophy. Englewood Cliffs: Prentice-Hall, 1964.
Dewey, John. Democracy and Education. Toronto: Collier-Macmillan, 1966.
Hamachek, Don E. Psychology in Teaching, Learning, and Growth. Boston: Allyn and Bacon, 1979.
Kneller, George F. Foundations of Education. New York: John Wiley, 1963.
Nitzberg, Kevin. “Arts Advocacy.” 1999. 1 April 2004. .
Ross, Jerrold. “Civility.” Arts Education Policy Review 97. 1 (1995): 2. EBSCO.
Smith, Philip G. Philosophy of Education. New York: Harper and Row, 1965.
U.S. Department of Education. “Summary Statement: Education Reform, Standards, and the Arts.” 1995. 31 March 2004. .
Williams, Harold M. “Don’t Ignore the Arts.” USA Today Magazine 124. 2604 (1995): 66. EBSCO.

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