As I scroll through my Instagram feed I see various types of pictures: food, family, homework and a myriad of other subjects. One thing many of the people I see on Instagram do is take pictures in front of old, beat up homes on the east side of Detroit. Why? Well, they are not just beat up homes. They are part of The Heidelberg Project. The Heidelberg project is a live work of art that not only attempts to make beauty out of ruins, but revives Detroit in a way and also makes a political statement of events of the past and today (“FAQ”). What’s my point?
Well, what has made the creator of this project, Tyree Guyton come into this neighborhood and do this? Art. He has a passion for art, and creatively applied it to his surroundings of what seemed like junk and ruins. Guyton had arts in his education and carried it with him in life. Not everybody has to develop some type of passion or love for the arts and make a career out of it, but some people do. Who would play music at events? Who would create music scores for your favorite video games and movies? Design your clothes and homes? Who would act out our favorite plays, movies and musicals?
Sure, some people may not be into The Arts, and they may not be very good at it. But how will they be able to find out if they are not given the chance? The government wants to cut arts programs from public schools to ‘save money’ but it is not a wise action. Students will be less well rounded; will lack the advantage of developing specific problem solving and creative thinking skills, make students less motivated to attend school, and also gives them less of a chance to participate in something positive, prevents cultural renewal and hurts the economy more than helps it (Catherine 16).
According to Ann Mary, individuals who have arts incorporated into their education end up being ‘more innovative thinkers’ (28). When students have some type of arts class, the tasks each person completes can usually be interpreted in multiple ways and can also be completed in a variety of ways. Even when playing a musical piece, certain parts are not played exactly as written. People can play based on their interpretation where it is available in the sheets. Also, many popular songs today are arranged for playing on musical instruments. Not all arrangements are the same.
They may have minor differences, but they could be equally representative as a rendition of the song. Having this freedom in the creative thought process is important to have because in the real word, problems do not always have a specific and designed answer- they can have hundreds of possible solutions with thousands of ways of approaching them, or one solution with hundreds ways of approaching it. Students need to learn how to ‘think outside the box’. Students have also been proven to perform better in school when involved in arts programs (Benham 8).
If the only thing left in schools is standardized testing, students will be harmed instead of helped. Standardized tests discourage any type of individual thinking or further thought on the subjects being studied by students because they are so focused on studying for the test and how it is formatted, what type of questions will be asked and which type of answers, how to decipher which is the trick answer and the obviously wrong; they take what they learn at face value and do not think twice of it or strive to learn more.
It’s all about the tests, after all. When the tests are over, the information is forgotten like last seasons questionable latest fashion craze that is now replaced with an even more daring fad. Students are turned into one question, one answer, one method zombies that have nothing to receive from their education but black and white packets that determine their grade (Mary 29). School would become less enjoyable for students and they would be less motivated to attend, affecting their attendance (Catherine 17).
Students that receive an arts education in school also have the advantage of being more well-rounded compared to students that go to school yet do not participate in any type of extra-curricular or elective type of classes at school. These art-involved students attract the attention of colleges more. Colleges will more likely accept and offer a scholarship to a student who is involved in music, art, or theater opposed to a student who is not involved in any activity. I know this firsthand by being told time and time again by a handful of different teachers and counselors.
One of my close friends received a full-time scholarship for her time at college because of her good grades and the music and theater classes she participated in. she is now studying music. In New York, the mayor decided to cut funding for art programs that take place during and after school due to financial crisis (Taylor). This news was discouraging to parents and children and educators. The children who attend these classes most likely enjoy them and learn more than just how to paint or how to cry on spot.
They make friends, learn how to work with different types of people, and discover the way things work. Someone may be participating in these activities to avoid going home to a dysfunctional family and take his/her mind off the troubles. Some find it relaxing and fun (Faraj). Some parents work till the evening and feel safer knowing that their child is engaged in a positive after school activity rather than possibly being involved in illegal or dangerous street activity.
The individuals that teach these programs lose their jobs and also increase the unemployment rate which does not help the financial crisis. The government’s main reasoning behind the budget cuts is the lack of funds to continue supporting these programs. What the government does not realize is that this will lose money instead of save money (Catherine 16). The people who receive an arts education and decide to make a career out of it may start projects or businesses that pertain to what they do, and also generate more jobs for more people.
This would make more tax dollars for the government and also help decrease the unemployment rate. Students that carry their arts education with them will use its benefits towards their career whether they are musicians, physicists, fashion designers, engineers, and more. Personally, I have always loved the arts, especially music. Whenever it is time for music class, I get excited. In elementary school, the class I learned the most in was music. In high school, I took piano class for two years, and even a semester of band.
Piano class was the only class where I devoted the most of my efforts and time into that class and feel like I learned the most. When I took band, I learned that all of the concepts that I learned in while learning how to play piano could be applied to playing other instruments. I feel like I have benefited from learning music because it has helped me focus on a task and I learned not to give up right away. My band/piano teacher Mr. Guthre claims, “Music is the only thing a person can multitask with all while in time.
You play a piece of music; think about what you are playing, what you will play next, what mistake you made, all while playing in ‘real ‘time (Guthre). Some people may not really remember their art, music, or theater classes aside from that weird painting they were shown that makes no sense at all, some old piece by Mozart that they learned about (ugh why am I learning this, its so old! ), or the ‘strange’ activities students had to participate to warm up to act out Shakespeare (yet another old guy that is centuries old, yawn), but it has still helped them subconsciously.
And for those students that have stuck with anything art related, they will benefit and have the advantages of being well rounded, possessing creative thinking skills and also being able to work effectively in teams while having exceptional problem solving skills. Students will also be engaged in a positive and keeps them motivated overall. The arts are more important than they seem, and the government should reconsider where to make sacrifices to save money.
Courtney from Study Moose
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