Survey of Arts Management

Course blog for American University PERF-570, Fall 2014

Aren’t We Kinda Tired of Arguing for Arts Education?

It’s tiring, I know. The argument that Arts education has a quantifiable and assuredly beneficial affect on the growth of young students (not to mention old students like myself!) almost seems passe at this point – because even when you can prove that Arts education is important, nay essential, it is still brushed off to the corner in most educational systems across the country.  I don’t mean to suggest that we don’t value Arts education, because we do, but the question goes deeper: do we value it enough?

This article, which is primarily a quote from a book by Michael Sokolove called Drama High, seems to suggest that we do not. In his words, Arts education not only promotes confidence and intellectual curiosity, but it makes students more resilient. It acts, in a way, as a binding for all of the other disciplines – a contextual glue that enables and empowers students to succeed in ways they wouldn’t normally imagine because it is an inherently imaginative process. Sokolove also suggests a radical idea: if Arts education isn’t given equal weight because it isn’t tested, why don’t we just test it then? Create an evaluatory method that allows the Arts to be tested alongside Math and English, and maybe, just maybe, it will be give more credence.

What do you all think?

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4 comments on “Aren’t We Kinda Tired of Arguing for Arts Education?

  1. cayleycarroll
    September 30, 2014

    In elementary school, art class was always the highlight of my week. It was the one time in school I felt like I could open myself up and release all the weird and whimsy I had been unable to show my teachers and friends. It was my time to examine my spirit and express it how I deemed fit. Art class was invaluable tool in my development.

    I really hope testing art is not the answer to securing funding for the schools. In my eyes, testing would take away the virtue of art class-a chance to be you without judgment. It would take away the “doing it for yourself” aspect and instill a need to produce a product.

    How would a standardized art test work anyways?

  2. sarasps85
    September 30, 2014

    !!!Saw this article and was going to write about it. But then…I thought the same as you: “aren’t we tired of arts education?”. Action is needed.
    But how can we measure and/or evaluate the effectiveness of arts education? I am not sure 1) if that is possible and 2) (using Cayley’s argument) if that might take away and reduce the intrinsic value of the benefits of arts education.
    I think the only way to “test” it would be through the analysis of other case studies and just by simply investing on it the same way schools invest in new computers or books for their libraries. It doesn’t have to be a megalomaniac investment as most of the schools provide spaces for it to happen. Hopefully, because we keep on talking about it, because these days most arts organizations also care about it might see it happening in the educational system soon.

  3. qfloyd
    October 1, 2014

    Hi! Music Teacher Here! I’m tired of advocating for arts education because no one believes us (administrators, policy-makers). But I will keep advocating for arts education until the day that I die. There is a lot of research about how arts education impacts student achievement but to no avail does anyone focus on the arts (even though they are a core subject on NCLB). The sad part about our public education system is that there is so much disparity depending on where you live, that your access to arts education programs is determined by your community’s socio-economic background.
    I grew up in NYC public schools and fortunately for me because I didn’t go to my zone school, was able to access the arts and excel at it. If I did go to my zone school, I probably would not have had the same opportunity. Unfortunately, there are students who are not able to do what I did and are not able to express themselves creatively.
    Arts education is my passion and I can write a thesis on it but I’ll just leave it to this simple paragraph. You all added gas to my fire! 🙂

  4. hshambroom
    October 1, 2014

    I agree with Sara – I think that the best way to “test” the effectiveness of arts education would be through analysis of case studies. Because of the subjectivity of art, the type of standardized testing school systems do on math and language arts would not be an appropriate or accurate reflection of the importance of art within a curriculum.

    The museum where I work has a partnership with the Montgomery county public school system, and once a week we bring in high school classes to lead them through the exhibit and talk to them about the works on view. I am continually astounded at the responses the high schoolers have to the works. Often times adults who view the exhibit are closed minded or unwilling to learn. The high schoolers we see are constantly making connections between the art and other things theyre learning, and every time a group comes through they bring up things in the works that I’ve never thought of. We do follow up with the teachers and classes we see to evaluate how the visit has affected their classroom learning – most of the teachers we engage with comment that their students continue to make connections long after their in-person experience with the art has passed.

    It’s so clear to anyone working in the field how important art education is, this has been talked about time and time again. Based on this article it sounds like educators know this too, but are put in a tough position because of state testing and imposed curriculums. I’m not sure that standardized testing is the most effective way to prove the worth of the arts, but it’s clear that some kind of quantitative data is needed in order to fairly compare it to other subjects.

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