Adrienne Yoder
Jenny Nalley
Kristy Reed
Kathryn Zarate
Kelsey Frydl
Frostburg State University
Fall 2009




In today’s society, the arts, which include the disciplines of music, dance, theater, art and photography, are not looked upon as being vital components to school curriculums. Recent legislations have lessened the importance of the arts in education so more focus can be put on the “core” subjects, like math, history, and english. It is a shame that students today will not be able to reap the numerous benefits that the arts have to offer. Without these disciplines, children are missing out on a well-rounded education. Taking the arts out of the curriculum is like taking glasses from a visually impaired student; what he or she sees is limited or blurred. This student would not be able to see the whole picture clearly. Students may know how to add or recall historical events, but without the arts their creativity will never develop and they will miss out on learning about their culture through music, dance, theater, art and the like. It has been proven that removing the arts has had negative repercussions on learning and development, and therefore, should stay in the curriculum.

Arts education programs are in danger after the passage of No Child Left Behind and recent budget reductions. NCLB requires states to align tests with state academic standards and begin testing students on an annual basis in reading and math. These requirements on math and reading proficiencies have caused the arts programs to struggle at finding funding and attention. Schools are so concerned with raising test scores that the arts instruction has either shrunk or disappeared completely. School students are spending less time in art and music classes to devote more time to math and reading. Academic performance has become so vital that teachers have delayed their ability to develop lessons involving arts. School budgets have become uncertain and funding for art education has been cut considerably. Some budget cuts have wiped out art classes entirely. Many teaching positions are being eliminated which means that schools will possibly be dismissing their music and art programs. Schools should receive proper funding for arts education programs and these programs should be included in the education of students today.

No Child Left Behind has restricted arts programs’ ability to grow and schools are being forced to cut the arts and even fire employees of the arts when faced with budget cuts. Districts are facing more and more pressure to raise state test scores in mathematics and English and since music and the arts are not tested by the government, schools are pressured to cut them back first. Teachers of the arts are getting their hours cut or even losing their positions completely so that schools can use that money for core subjects and general use in the classrooms. When schools are faced with a budget crisis the arts are always the first to go.

Arts in education, though many do not realize, is very crucial to a child’s success and should not be cut out of the curriculums. The arts benefits children in many ways. First of all, they provide opportunities for self-expression. At home, children may not have the materials or instruments to do this on their own. Music and art is also a common language. No matter if one is a different race, from a different culture, or even has a different economic background, with art they can all have something in common. The arts also help from an academic standpoint. Arts provide immediate feedback and also merge the learning of process and content. Many studies have shown that the arts improve academic achievement through test scores, social skills, critical and creative thinking, and even attitudes. The arts develop skills used for higher order thinking. Some of these skills include analysis, synthesis, evaluation, and problem finding. Arts are very important components of any alternate assessment program which is why they are so vital in an educational setting. One of the greatest things about the arts is that they provide learning opportunities for every student. Developmental stages, socioeconomic factors, race, or even age have no effect on learning from the arts(Dickinson, 1993). These are many reasons why the arts should be included in the classroom.
` The arts also teach skills that other subjects cannot. For example, math and language arts classes cannot instill the “visual-spatial abilities, reflection, self-criticism, and willingness to experiment and learn from mistakes,” like the arts can(Goetz & Guarner, 2009). Many federal and state education mandates are putting the arts last in their funding. The arts help students perform well in all other subjects, which is one great reason for keeping them in the curriculum. There are many reasons and statistics as to why arts should stay a main part of the educational curriculum.

It is heard all too often that art, theater, dance, and music are a waste of time and should not be involved in school. Some parents say that they are not sending their children to school for “play time,” but to learn “substantial” information, like math, reading, and history. Well, it is too bad that people think that way because research shows that the arts play a crucial role in developing children’s minds to the fullest, and there are negative repercussions when the arts are not incorporated. Not every child is born to be a sports star, so art, theater, dance, or music may be their creative outlet. These artistic pathways foster creativity that a child may not otherwise have been aware they had. Also, art may be the only escape a child has if he/she comes from a negative home life. Taking the arts away from that child who otherwise has nothing would be almost cruel, and that’s what is happening in schools today. “The arts bring children into a wonderland that allows them to express themselves and be inspired and carried away. To give a child a chance to dwell in this magical place and then rudely take it away only amplifies this feeling of loss” (Kaiser, 2009). The arts keep children out of trouble, providing an alternative to delinquency, and at the same time, studies show, improve academic performance. There is no good reason for art, dance, theater, and music to be removed from the curriculum. Without these subjects, schools would produce less confident, more socially conformed kids with lower test scores and academic achievement.

For all students, let alone those with special needs, taking the arts out of education would be detrimental. For the population of individuals with special needs, however, the loss is tragic. Children with disabilities ranging from dyslexia to Down Syndrome use the arts as a way to express their feelings and a way to communicate when verbal and written and signed language fails them. Schools designed specifically for children with special needs, such as the Kennedy Krieger Institute in Baltimore, Maryland, use the arts as a form of therapy to allow children to showcase their talents and express their feelings. Art is also useful for these children as a way of behavior management. Teachers at the Institute have found that when children act out, they are simply trying to find the best way to convey their anger, frustration, or need for attention and acting out is the only method available to them. When art is an option, children can sing, play instruments, draw, paint, and act out what they need to express instead of becoming a distraction in class where art is not offered. Art also allows the children to learn concepts such as loud and quiet, bright and dark, happy and sad through different methods and not simply through lecture and peer interaction which are often difficult for them.

Evidence has shown that students who learn in an environment without the arts are far more disadvantaged than those that do. Recent legislation has discouraged the funding of music and creative arts education in favor of math and reading. Legislators fail to realize, however, that children can reinforce their knowledge of any subject through the arts. Children learn in many different ways and by taking the arts out, we are only limiting their potential to grow and thrive. This is also the case with children with special needs who need reinforcement and creative outlets in order to learn the most basic of material. Therefore, in order to promote education of any kind in the schools we must first return the arts to the classroom.

Article Edited by:Nicole Umstot, Tiffany Dicks, Missy Ray, Emily Fazenbaker, Eliza Kleban

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