Very few people would argue that art and creativity is important to students. The benefits are tangible: art education not only fosters creativity, but also helps students blossom in other fields, like math, science, and writing.
Elementary school students take art classes to develop motor skills like learning to use scissors and drawing, according to PBS. Creating art also can help students make their own decisions. They start with a blank canvas (even if their canvas is really just a piece of paper) and make it their own, choosing their color, style, shape, and final touches. One key benefit to early art education includes deciphering visual cues. Since technology involves constantly analyzing and interpreting visual data, learning about art may help students feel more comfortable using modern electronic devices. Art education also may help improve academic performance. A report from the Americans for the Arts showed that students who participated in art were more likely to be recognized for academic achievement, to participate in a math or science fair, or to win an award for writing.
And the benefits don’t stop there. “In a study of a high-poverty schools in Chicago, the schools that were participating in the Chicago Arts Partnerships in Education made huge strides in closing the gap between high- and low-income students’ academic achievement,” according to DoSomething.org. This is especially key since children of more affluent parents are more likely to have access to art knowledge and resources. However, access to art is also influenced by location, as low-income schools in areas of poverty are less likely to have art programs. But it’s not all bad.
Findings from the U.S. Department of Education's National Center for Education Statistics, which compared and contrasted data about arts education from the 1999-2000 school year to the 2009-2010 school year found that:
- 6% of public schools offer no music education
- 17% of public schools offer no visual arts education
- 3% of elementary schools offer dance education
- 4% of elementary schools offer theater classes (a decrease of 20 percent from the 1999 to 2000 school year)
Looking on the bright side, this means there are many public schools in the country still offering music, visual arts, or other arts education to their students. "Generally, what we really found is there is no consistent trend of decline in arts education in public schools," Jared Coopersmith, a project officer at the NCES, told EdWeek.org. "However, we did find various instances of change."
As the numbers above illustrate, dance and theater run the greatest risk of being slashed from the curriculum entirely. Dance instruction in elementary schools decreased from 20 percent to just three during the decade-long time span. Drama instruction went from 20 percent to four, according to ArtsEdWashington.org.
Despite these not so optimistic figures, organizations have been supportive.
The President's Committee on the Arts and the Humanities published a report asking for more funds for art education. The report stated that "due to budget constraints and emphasis on the subjects of high-stakes testing, arts instruction in schools is on a downward trend." However, schools still consider art to be an important subject.
"It is gratifying that, even in times of narrowing curriculum and economic hardships over the last decade, schools still see a strong value in access to arts education and continue to prioritize making it available to their students," the committee said.
Despite hardships, the future for art education is looking bright. Art in higher education is thriving, which means that students will hopefully have access to it later in their education, if not sooner. The world is filled with creative people, many of which Navis Pack & Ship is pleased to work with. Visit us on Pinterest for more about the arts and artists!