By Neyat Yohannes, Community Outreach Summer Intern
The world of arts education is a vibrant one that’s on the rise. More and more people are beginning to understand just how paramount the arts really are—especially at the elementary age—and why they shouldn’t be placed on the back burner behind subjects like math and science. The arts are just as essential in preparing a child for the future and must be focused on with just as much gravity as the traditional “core” subjects in the elementary school curriculum.
Familiar faces like Sarah Jessica Parker, Forest Whitaker, and Kerry Washington are stepping up to the plate in raising awareness for arts education. Each of them has volunteered to take on some of the nation’s most underserved and lowest-performing schools in both rural and urban areas of the United States in hopes of cultivating a more academically successful culture through the integration of arts education. The two-year initiative is already underway and you can check out this past article from the Huffington Post to learn more about the adopted schools and the progress that’s been made: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/04/23/kerry-washington-forest-whitaker-adopt-failing-schools_n_1445291.html
Of course, not everyone’s aboard the arts education train just yet. There are still a few folks left at the station who’ve yet to approach this topic with the necessary sense of urgency. But, each day there’s another breakthrough, which is always encouraging! For example, check out this article from Arts for LA that discusses CREATE CA, “a statewide movement to reform arts education in California”. Read on for more details on this exciting news for California: http://www.artsforla.org/news/create-ca-envisions-arts-inclusive-education-all-californians
One prevalent issue in the arts education sector is that the arts just aren’t taken seriously. They’re often thought of as merely a light activity to tack on to the end of a school day, time permitting. But the truth is, a painting class doesn’t solely involve putting pretty colors on a page—students learn about different variations of brush strokes, primary colors vs. secondary colors, the history of famous artists, and so much more. There actually are assessments involved in the arts and students are tested in this subject just as they’d be in any English class. Arts educator, Katie Lyles debunks misconstrued perceptions of the arts and shares with CNN, her experience as an elementary school art teacher: http://schoolsofthought.blogs.cnn.com/2012/06/25/my-view-grading-art-in-a-standardized-test-world/
Another common theme among those not pushing for arts education is the idea that a degree in the arts won’t amount to anything. “Starving artists” is a phrase frequently thrown around in reference to the financially unstable playwrights and painters struggling to make ends meet. While, sure, not every individual with an arts degree thrives in their field—which can be said for anyone, arts degree or not—there are definitely quite a few who do! The results from the Strategic National Arts Alumni Project (SNAAP), a survey created to “provide insights into the lives and careers of arts graduates of all ages” ultimately revealed that arts degrees generally lead to career satisfaction and life fulfillment. Read on for noteworthy statistics that would make any arts education devotee grin from ear to ear: http://www.cca.edu/news/2012/06/26/arts-degrees-lead-jobs-and-fulfilled-lives
I think it’s safe to say that things are definitely looking up in arts education! Continued support for the arts, staying in the loop by reading current articles, and sharing newfound knowledge with others is an excellent way to help arts education gain the universal respect it deserves.