Students are forgetting the importance of art

April 25, 2017 — by Francesca Chu

Sophomore reflects on the importance of true art. 

Students often complain about wasting time in a school art class or in a six-week summer art course when they could be studying for a “more useful course.” If asked to cut classes from the curriculum, many students and parents here would first look at the visual and performing art classes they consider unnecessary.

This mentality is wrong. The point of an art class is not to train students to become artists; it is to teach teens to express themselves beyond written and spoken language and to learn important life skills.

Participating in visual or performing arts is a way to express opinions, feelings and emotions that might otherwise remain  bottled up. Art is important not only because it is a major part of daily life, but also because it is a universal form of communication that connects us to others across the globe and from earlier times.

Many argue that high schoolers should be able to focus on courses geared at improving their future job prospects instead of art, which few will ever pursue a career in. But by this same logic, a student who doesn’t want to be a scientist should not have to take a science class.

In art, as with science, the skills a student learns extend far beyond a single painting, sketch or song. For example, theater teaches collaboration through group productions and AP Music Theory teaches creativity through music composition. These skills can be translated to any profession, whether it be working on an engineering team or a laboratory.

Art can also help someone stand out among the thousands of their peers who are equally as smart, but may lack the creativity learned in an art class.

For example, Steve Jobs credited some of his success to a college calligraphy class where he mastered the art of typography, which according to him was “beautiful, historical and artistically subtle in a way that science can’t capture.” Ten years later, he used the artistic taste he had developed through that class to design the first Macintosh computer, and his artistry was what set him apart from other computer geniuses and business leaders.

In addition, not enough high schoolers realize that they can gain valuable learning experiences from art because the benefits are rarely mentioned outside of art classes. Making art mandatory without explaining how it can be useful causes students to complain about it.

For many students, it would also be beneficial to place applied arts in the same category as visual and performing arts, since they are simply taking art skills and applying them to other subjects. With all art courses under one category, students would no longer have to fulfill two separate art credits; instead, they could spend more time expanding on one topic.

It may not be everyone’s dream to perform on stage, direct movies or paint a portrait, but high schoolers should be required to take an art course because the skills taught in art classes have a major influence on our daily lives, fostering students’ growth in creativity, design and collaboration.

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