In my last post I talked about the arts and their presence in our society from the earliest dates in human history (which could suggest their importance in our development as a species and society as whole). Of course there are those who might argue that the world today is different, that with the economy in the state that it is the arts are nice enough but no one really needs them. However numerous studies have shown value in arts education and extracurricular activities. Involvement in the arts has been associated with gains in math, reading, cognitive abilities, critical thinking and verbal skills (Smith). A report on visual arts in 2005 by the Rand Corporation argues artistic stimulation “can connect people more deeply to the world and open them to new ways of seeing,” thus laying the foundation for social bonds and community cohesion (Ibid). Music education has been continually shown to provide benefits for brain activity, language development, increased IQ and improved test scores (Brown). Performing arts extracurricular activities and classes require students to make time commitments in regards to performance and practicing (Lawhorn). Relief from stress, self-confidence, companionship, and creativity are other benefits gained from the arts and other extracurriculars (BenefitOf). As a result of this information, there are many across the country who are attempting to take steps to revive arts education in the schools (Smith).
Perhaps there are still those that in spite of hearing these gains still wouldn’t want their children to be in the arts. They feel their children should study practical subjects and go into a practical (and preferably high paying) career such as business or law. However, these jobs require creativity and could benefit from some artistic experience. A lawyer, for instance, might benefit from performance experience. Advertising and marketing utilize art and music in campaigns for a product. A diplomat who knows how to dance will probably have an easier time at inaugural balls and state dinners then one who does not. Any business leader benefits from storytelling abilities to construct a narrative of their company to entice customers and inspire workers and stockholders. In her book “You Majored in What” Katherine Brooks ED.D. shows how many people go on to careers that don’t correspond with their major in college. In a graph comparing the actual careers of graduates with their majors in college an Art Major became a Special Prosecutor for the District Attorney’s office and a Dramatic Arts Major became a member of Public Relations staff for the Republican National Committee (Brooks, 4). In both of these cases studying the arts did not hinder these individuals from pursuing other careers and if anything they may have benefitted from their experiences.
As an Artist I’m inspired by our ancient ancestors who painted on cave walls, carved instruments and told stories. I’m also inspired by those who continue to support the arts in the schools and communities across this nation in the face of seemingly insurmountable odds. I’m writing this today because I believe in the arts and what they can do. My music and my writing could take me a long way or they could just be a deeply loved hobby (though I hope that will not necessarily be the case). However no matter what happens, I stand by my love for the arts and my belief in their value. I only hope that others will come to see it too.
Works Cited and Bibliography
“Benefits of Extracurricular Activities.” BenefitOf. N.p., n.d. Web. 05 Mar. 2014. .
Brown, Laura L. “The Benefits of Music Education.” PBS Parents. PBS, n.d. Web. 05 Mar. 2014.
Brooks, Katharine. “Chapter 1.” You Majored in What?: Mapping Your Path from Chaos to Career. New York, NY: Viking, 2009. 4. Print.
Lawhorn, Bill. “Extracurricular Activities.” N.p., Winter 2008-9. Web. .
Smith, Fran. “Why Arts Education Is Crucial, and Who’s Doing It Best.” Edutopia. N.p., 28 Jan. 2009. Web. 04 Mar. 2014.