With the progression of education throughout the years, more and more schools have been cutting fine arts programs due to shrinking budgets, state mandates increasing classrooms’ curriculums, and the notion that arts are not beneficial in learning. However, it has been proven time and time again that children who are exposed to music, art, drama, and other fine arts are often more adept in reading, writing, and math.
A 2002 study on the subject conducted by the Arts Education Partnership concluded that students are more motivated in class when taking fine arts courses in addition to their standard curriculum. By taking away these classes, especially in elementary schools, we are limiting the development of children’s motor skills, decision making, creativity, and cultural awareness.
The hands-on aspect of many different fine arts subjects contribute to the proper development of fine motor skills in children. Coloring with crayons, using scissors, or using paintbrushes for example, are imperative in establishing the finesse children will eventually need for writing. According to a report by Americans for the Arts, education children in art enhances their critical thinking skills, and their problem solving skills as well. These are vital in the future successes of a child as he or she advances through the ups and downs of life.
In terms of cultural awareness, art education can greatly improve a child’s perspective on certain subjects, and allow them to be more accepting of differences in culture. This can create the foundation for bonding with other people and becoming socially aware. For example, if a child is taught the history of African music and how influential it was in shaping modern genres, they will fully appreciate the importance of that culture, and associate it with positivity.
The knowledge that fine arts contribute to a student’s advancement in an array of courses is well known throughout the country. 47 states have art education mandates, and 40 currently have art requirements in order to graduate high school. Despite this, funding and participation in these classes have experienced setbacks. Between the years of 2000 and 2004, California saw a 46% drop in the attendance in music courses, while the state’s total school enrollment grew 6%. Meanwhile, the number of music teachers in California declined by 26.7%.
Though these statistics make the future of art education appear bleak, a revival in fine arts within schools is underway. In a survey conducted in 2009, it was found that access to to art education opportunities had not changed much in the past decade. Many schools within the past few years have made great strides in not only revitalizing fine arts, but focusing entire schools around them in order to prevent the lapse of funding that was endured not long ago.
Arizona State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Horne is a strong advocate in the providing of art education to all students. Through hard work done by Horne, progress is being made in pushing for higher standards for art education. He stated “When you think about the purposes of education, there are three: We’re preparing kids for jobs, for them to be citizens, and we’re teaching them to be human beings who can enjoy the deeper forms of beauty. The third is as important as the other two.”