When balancing budgets, schools often make cuts to fine arts programs: it’s regarded as a “nice to have” but not a “must have.” This thinking not only limits students’ exposure to creative, innovative visual and performing arts – it impacts academic performance, critical thinking, and other essential aspects of education. Our job is to prepare students for life and work: the importance of fine arts in this endeavor cannot be understated.
Benefits of Fine Arts in Schools
The arts are expressions of who we are as people, and who we can become. Exposing students to the fine arts, and empowering them to participate and create themselves, offers a number of advantages, including:
- Developing neural systems
- Improving fine motor skills
- Improving emotional balance
- Safe, appropriate expression of emotions
- Increasing motivation
- Raising attendance
- Reducing dropout rates
- Fostering teamwork
- Nurturing a love of learning
- Enhancing creativity and critical thinking
- Developing self-confidence
- Preparing students for dynamic workplaces
- Exposing students to different cultures
According to one study: “The arts enhance the process of learning. The systems they nourish, which include our integrated sensory, attentional, cognitive, emotional, and motor capacities, are, in fact, the driving forces behind all other learning.”
The Fine Arts Help All Students
When students struggle with subjects such as math, science, reading, or writing, they too often become discouraged – and disengaged. Fine arts in schools can reach these students. It can spark in them a love of learning that then extends to other areas of their education. When they paint a picture, perform in a play, or sing a song, they think, “I did it! What else can I do?” It opens up doors they may have previously thought locked to them.
The arts are also accessible to each and every student; they can challenge themselves at their own level while striving towards the next. This is particularly prevalent among students of lower socioeconomic levels. Research shows that 21% of students with a low socioeconomic background who studied music scored higher in math; for those who didn’t study music, this was just 11%. By grade 12, this gap grew to 33% vs. 16%.
Research backs up the importance of fine arts in our student’s lives. This academic area is just as vital as math, science, technology, reading, and writing – and it can enhance every other aspect of the educational experience.