Why is art education important in schools? Why are learning simple grammar, math, social studies and science techniques essential in elementary schools today? Arguments and controversies have been demonstrated for years, on which should remain in schools and which has to undergo the budget cut. North Carolina has been affected dramatically with the budget cuts in the school system. The North Carolina Arts Council at www. ncncarts. org has had a great amount of information for me to learn about my home state and its art.
In 1964, Governor Terry Sanford created the North Carolina Arts Council in hope to improve the creativity and learning ability of the residents in the state. The board holds 24 members and is known for its mission statement: “To Make North Carolina A Better State Through The Arts (ncartscouncil)”. Funding made to the council is from State Legislature and the National Endowment for the Arts. North Carolina has over 200 art museums, galleries, and art shops. Arts Education Partnership was also a great website to learn more why art education is so important.
In 1994, the Clinton administration added art to core subjects in the National Education Goals as part of the Goals 200 program. Educate America Act was passed and signed by Clinton. In 2002, ‘No Child Left Behind”’ was established by the Bush administration, which later on led to ‘No Subject Left Behind’ to support art education (aep-arts education partnership). I personally do not agree with all the decision with No Child Left Behind, but that’s just my opinion. I read on and researched about specifically North Carolina art programs in schools.
To graduate from high school you must have 6 elective credit units being in Career Technical Education, Art Education, or Foreign Language. But, the more recently Art only has one credit unit. A+ schools were established in 1995. An A+ school is completely devoted to teaching the students through art. The arts are taught through dance, drama, and visual arts. In the National Standards of Visual Arts the K-4 standards are listed as: understanding the vocabulary and various types of work in visual arts.
In the Standard Course of Study, which all teachers and schools go by today, the K-2 students are expected to apply reading, writing, and verbal skills, use math skills to determine quantity and time. Grades 3-5 demonstrate their own personal interest and can differentiate the different types of art. “Intelligence is the ability to create an effective product or offer a service that is valued in a culture; a set of skills that make it possible for a person to solve problems in life; the potential for finding or creating solutions for problems which involves gathering new knowledge (Howard Gardner-Multiple Intelligences)”.
Howard Gardner used the Multiple Intelligences Theory to describe how students learn and take in information. He described each one and its details. Linguistic learners perceive words and language, Logical/Mathematical- Logic and numbers, Musical- music, sound, and rhythm, Bodily/Kinesthetic- Body and movement control, Spatial/ Visual- Images and space, Interpersonal-Other people’s feelings, Intrapersonal- self-awareness. I think the Multiple Intelligences I fall under would probably be Interpersonal, Linguistic, or Bodily/Kinesthetic.
Furthermore, art is known as an international language (Wachowiak, pg 3). Wachowiak states in “Emphasis Art” that the budget cuts have dramatically affected the art programs in schools. Art is withering away in schools today. I know the County I live in has no art programs in the Elementary schools. There is an ‘enrichment’ class the elementary school my sister attends, but the kids absolutely hate going there. I’m not sure if the teacher is certified to be teaching any art at all and the kids say it isn’t fun at all.
It’s kind of a ‘get the kids out of the classroom and away from the teacher’ kind of deal. I do believe the kids learn some things, but nothing like a real Art class. Elementary schools need art education more now than ever. I am a firm believer that what you go through in your younger/childhood years will affect you the rest of your lives. Such as, if you grow up in a rough household, or even witness a horrific accident, it will be with you and you will remember it forever. The same with how you learn and were educated in elementary school. I remember in 6th grade I had a teacher named Mrs. Luther. Mrs.
Luther wasn’t the best teacher, and indeed only taught there for one year, but I will never forget how all our science experiments were hands on. We would do simple projects, such as learning about the joints and parts in the hand but they always incorporated an activity. Also, in college, I had a math teacher that was absolutely amazing. She just would simply write the equations on the board, and if we didn’t understand, she would draw pictures or had examples to help us. Art education helps students become beyond themselves. Art education helps students to break out of their shell, and be creative.
It allows students to understand the connections between what is depicted in art and how it is depicted (Wachowiak pg 5). Art is known as a welcome way of learning. Art is described in many ways. People believe different aspects as art. Younger students, around age 6-9, are more about expressing their interests. My sister, for example, is a writer. She absolutely loves to write stories with her own imagination, draw pictures at the top of each page, and then adds a cover page and back page made out of construction paper. She titles the book and adds who the author and illustrator is on the front.
I think that is art. Her imagination comes out and she expresses herself through writing and drawing. Some people only know art as paintings, or murals. Art is everything. Art is the way a student describes to his teacher why he drew the picture of the purple alien, when everyone else drew human people. Only he knows in his head why he drew that and he wanted that exact way. Art in schools lead to a language that doesn’t involve verbal or mathematical numbers (Wachowiak pg 7). Students don’t look forward to going to school every day and sitting in a desk learning the same thing the same way.
If the teacher decides to teach about butterflies for a week by the second day the kids are tired of just hearing the teacher read aloud. Why not add materials to make the butterflies? Why not add materials to make the steps of the caterpillar, cocoon, butterfly, and so on. Forget the coloring worksheets and add the fun stuff. Adding art to the everyday subjects promotes higher thought processes and excitement. Dr. Lora Lawson stated in her report on Arts Integration that engaging the disadvantaged students helps fill the gaps in their lives. It increases attendance and adds student motivation.
The home life of each student affects their school life. Those students who have less of an advantage of succeeding due to no motivation or lack of parental care, need the time and care of a teacher. Why not an art teacher? Art teachers or even a teacher that integrates art in the classroom can motivate and help push the student to bring out his feelings in art. The child could draw or could just have a blank page and draw whatever he feels and whatever he needs to get those feelings out. I think kids need just a simple experiment like that just to express themselves. A simple hour a week ould really promote creativity and self-control. A child can’t explain themselves or let their feelings come out through a math excel worksheet or just cutting and gluing. In math, you have only one right answer. The same with grammar and history. There is only one year that Columbus discovered America, but there are over thousands of ways to picture it and try to teach it to 1st graders. It has been proven that students that participate in the arts for 3 hours a day, 3 days a week, are 4 times more likely to be recognized for academic achievement (Americans for the arts).
The Arts in schools allows students to be much more than they would be in a plain classroom. An elementary school with a talent show every year has the students that are brave and willing to get up in front of the whole school to sing, or dance. Some children don’t start that bluntly. One simple visual arts class is more that needed in schools today. Just think of the small ways to help a simple 2nd grader to draw, and then possibly on throughout his life become great at it and pursue a career in the Arts.