Why Art Matters

In most far Eastern and European nations, the Arts are considered fundamental. They are taught at every grade level and are considered to be part of the core curriculum. However, in much of the United States, despite mounting studies and evidence of the value the Arts contribute to the educational process, they are still too often considered to be supplemental (nice to have, but non-essential). Especially recently, with the strong emphasis on budget control and on testing to the standards in math and language arts, they have taken a real beating. Unless this trend is reversed, the consequences for education in this country are dire indeed.

So let’s briefly review some of the important roles of the Arts in the educational process.

  1. Development of the Right Brain and Right/Left Brain connections: We all have two hemispheres in our brains. The left hemisphere is verbal, analytical, logical, rational, and linear; the right hemisphere is intuitive, creative holistic, spatial, and visual. In order to function anywhere near our full potential, we need to utilize our entire brain and to train the two hemispheres to work together. Yet, most schools spend over 95% of the time in left-brain activity and almost no time developing the right brain and the connections between the two hemispheres. This results in "Cookie-Cutter Kids" instead of "creative students who can think outside the box". It is generally agreed that training in the Arts offers the best approach to developing the right brain.
  2. Creative Problem Solving: There are two possible ways to solve problems - correctly (using the left brain) and creatively (using the right brain). While many problems can be solved correctly, the more challenging the problem, the more likely it will demand a creative solution. This is true not only in school and in our careers, but in our personal life as well. Every studio art project is an exercise in creative problem solving, as the student utilizes the elements and principles of art to create his/her composition and to express his/her ideas visually.
  3. Development of Other Intelligences: Howard Gardner, Professor of Education at Harvard and of Neurology and Boston University Medical School has shown that we have seven intelligences or ways of learning and expressing ourselves. Two of them (Linguistic and Logical/Mathematical) reside primarily in the left brain. On the other hand, five (Spatial/Visual, Musical, Kinesthetic, Intrapersonal, and Interpersonal) reside primarily in the right brain. These intelligences are developed through the Arts and through Physical Education.
  4. Improved Performance in School: An increasing number of independent studies have established strong correlations between an arts education and, for example, performance in other subjects, high SAT scores, reduction of drop-out rates, and feelings of self-confidence. And we at Arts Attack find that feedback from our customers reinforces this on a weekly basis. Given the roles that the Arts play in developing creative problem-solving and right-left brain function and coordination, this is not at all surprising.
  5. Improved Success in One’s Career: According to Robert Root-Bernstein, professor of Physiology and MacArthur Prize Fellow at Michigan State University: "Studies show that neither mathematical nor verbal reasoning tests are useful indicators for future careers in science and technology, but high visual imaging ability is. One study found that high aptitude in arts and music are much more predictive of career success in any field than the results of grades, IQ, achievement or any other standardized measures. The arts, despite a reputation for being subjective, emotional and non-intellectual, make science and invention possible."
  6. Learning to See and to Experience: Seeing and experiencing with the right brain is very different from seeing or experiencing with the left brain, leading to a richer and more fulfilling life.
    "How very dull, how very drab our children’s lives would be, if they looked but did not see, touched but did not feel, listened but never took a curtain call." Wilson Riles

If schools would only allot 10% of their average school day to the Arts, all of the above could be successfully achieved.

Why Art Matters

In most far Eastern and European nations, the Arts are considered fundamental. They are taught at every grade level and are considered to be part of the core curriculum.

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