Think back to your high school years, do you remember it being mandatory to take a gym class? You're not alone, personally in my high school we were required to take gym for at least 3 semesters, however, I was never required to take an "arts" course. I have to admit that I am a band kid so I do have some bias but I am also a three-sport athlete. The arts are just as important if not more important than gym.
I recognize that obesity in America is at its peak right now, and would seem to make gym class more important than ever, but a recent study conducted by Cornell University proved otherwise. The study concluded that most students believed that gym classes were not effective. It is commonly accepted that developing children in middle and elementary school get at least 30 minutes of exercise a day, while high schoolers should get around 45 minutes of exercise a day. The same study conducted by Cornell University found that only about 3 minutes, out of a 30 minute gym period, were actually spent being physically active.
On the other hand, in most high schools art classes are not mandatory, at best they are an option for an elective. Arts education in schools is rapidly decreasing, one of those reasons is due to budget cuts, In the United States of America (USA) only 22 states provide funding for an arts education in schools; that is only 44% of the nation. Only 17 states specify arts education as a requirement for schools to be an accredited institution. Nine states do not even require arts classes to be an option for students. Engaging in the arts is of the utmost importance of human life. Ever since we have learned to walk and talk we have also been expected to communicate through artistic expression. Just think, how did we learn the alphabet? With a song.
Schools have become more focused on how students score on standardized tests over the past decade. This push for high test scores is another huge reason why education of arts has been declining in the USA. A study conducted by Rice Kinder Institute involved a randomized controlled trial with 10,548 students in 48 schools across the Houston Area. Half of the students were exposed to a wide variety of arts educational experience throughout the school year; while the other half went about their schools "normal" curriculum. This study found that students who were exposed to the arts performed better on standardized tests, especially writing. Students also showed higher empathy towards others, more susceptibility to social tolerance, and had a drop in disciplinary infractions when exposed to the arts. The full report to this study will be linked at the end of this article. With the push for high test scores, there should also be a push for more arts education to improve these scores.
Award-winning actress Kerry Washington attributes much of her success to her education in the arts. She has even helped form Turnaround Arts Program, a program that aims to bring arts education and supplies to low performing schools across the USA. A program evaluation showed higher academic achievement and a decrease in disciplinary problems. There is also a whole organization dedicated to arts and medicine called NOAH ( National Organization for Arts in Heath). Many innovative doctors of today are apart of NOAH's mission to serve and advance the field of arts in health.
At the end of the day, I recognize that physical fitness is important; but whenever it is stacked against the multiple benefits of the arts I fail to see how physical fitness can be placed on a higher pedestal than art education. The arts are a way of life. Every day we utilize the innovative and imaginative sides of ourselves that stem from the arts. When faced with the choice to look good in a bathing suit or to exercise my imagination, I would not hesitate to choose the latter.
The full report of Rice Kinder study:
- Advocating for Arts in the Classroom - Education Next : Education Next ›
- 3 Stories That Reveal How Important Arts Education Really Is - The ... ›
- Art Education: A Crisis in Priorities ›
- The Benefits of Music Education . Music & Arts . Education | PBS ... ›
- AEP - Arts Education Partnership ›
- Advocates say arts education should be a priority for K-12 - Talk ... ›
- Why Arts Education Is Crucial, and Who's Doing It Best | Edutopia ›
- Arts education in all schools needs to be a priority and better funded ... ›