Justifying arts education: Why art school is actually underrated
Don’t you think your life would be boring without art? I mean, if you notice your surroundings, art is all around you. In fact, nature itself is art. While I do agree that traditional education is important, and leads to higher chances of finding jobs, the arts are important as well.
Most people underrate art schools and think they don’t give their students a proper education like exam schools or traditional schools. They believe that art takes so much time that it gets in the way of studying and other types of beneficial learning.
I myself am a teenager who very much enjoys the arts. To be a lover of art and not have the ability to share with others our ideas and express ourselves often feels very suffocating. To those children who wanted to go to an art school but their parents wouldn’t let them — this article goes out to you!
Often parents want the best for their children, but they may underrate the arts because they want their kids to do better than them financially, and they feel it’s unlikely that their child will be one of the few that “make it big.” This can lead parents to discourage their kids from pursuing the arts.
Even if parents don’t actively discourage their children, they still often don’t understand how important the arts are to their kids’ happiness, even if the work is hard.
“It’s interesting ‘cause there’s no reference for being a film producer, especially if you’re like — if you’re typically from an immigrant family,” said Chris Hyacinthe, a film producer based in Los Angeles. “Any artist’s career [is] kind of abstract and it’s harder to explain and essentialize to your family what it is you’re doing, why you left home, why you're getting underpaid or whatever — like what’s the end goal?”
Even though it may be hard in the beginning, many artists find it rewarding when they finally succeed. That feeling makes it worth it. Everyone starts off from the bottom, working their way to the top, but it’s a phase. At one point in life, we’ve all faced financial instability. It’s normal.
The arts are also really important to our culture; the art industry and its economy contribute to humanity. Artists provide us with services that make us happy. Animation is art, advertising is art, the whole entire fashion industry is art.
Our society relies on the art industries for profit, so you can still make money. Let's say the government completely got rid of art in general. What would happen to all of the advertisements? Who’s going to buy companies’ products? Who’s going to stick with the latest trends? Or find a cure for their sick loved one? Maybe even a cool vacation spot for the summer? No models? No sponsors, no clothes left to sell because no one knows they exist. No more new television shows or movies. I know how much y'all like Marvel and DC movies, well guess what? There would be no more. My point is that this is why arts education is important! Without people studying the arts and then becoming professional artists, there would be no filmmakers, photographers, or makeup artists to make your fav celebs look on fleek! Nothing!
There are also academic benefits to participating in the arts. A 2016 study of elementary schoolers in Alabama found that students who took music or visual arts classes performed better on standardized math testing than their peers who did not take art. Researcher Molly Elizabeth King suggested that music was correlated with high scores because it provides an opportunity for students to process emotions and develop problem-solving skills.
Can I be honest, though? The arts can sharpen your creative skills, but I think some of it just depends on the student. Art affects everyone differently. Some say they do better in tests after arts involvement while others say they do worse. As King noted in her study, the arts support important learning and coping skills, but they cannot fix existing academic problems.
“There are many other factors that contribute to a student’s success (including environment, parental support, and exposure to experiences),” King wrote. “However, research has validated that participating in music can enhance a student’s potential in several key areas.”
Even if the arts are not guaranteed to raise test scores, bringing art projects into the classroom can support learners of different styles. There are different types of learning styles: auditory, tactile and visual. I myself am a visual learner. I often do better with equations once I look at one of the teacher’s examples.
When I was in eighth grade, one of my teachers tested our learning styles through a memory game. She had us look at a selection of items and then covered them, asking us to write down everything we saw. I was able to recall all of the items, but I definitely couldn’t do that if it was a list read out to me.
In the classroom, similar things come up with lectures. Simply hearing a teacher talk might not click for some students, but allowing students to create diagrams or design posters with drawings may help them remember the information.
I believe as long as we're doing something that makes us happy, that's enough. You can manage your schedule in order to take care of arts and traditional education. It may be a rocky path to a professional arts career, but as long as you don't give up you can have a strong career in the art industry.
For Hyacinthe, art is a necessity, and he can’t imagine life without it.
“[Without art life is] boring, uninteresting, and … boring.”