Why do so many schools downplay the arts?
Many public schools treat art and music extracurriculars. In fact, the arts are often defunded before subjects that really are extracurriculars, like sports. Why?
In the scheme of global history, we’re really the first era to downplay art education. Our ancestors treated the arts just as seriously as science and technology– and in some ways, their music and poetry actually outlived their scientific discoveries. For example, when Pythagoras claimed that the world was round, it was a big deal in his own time…but children today can figure that out with one glance at a satellite image. The discovery still matters, but it doesn’t necessarily surprise us anymore.
On the other hand, we STILL have whole fields of study devoted to understanding the paintings, musical practices, and stage plays of our ancestors. High schoolers still read Homer and Sophocles, as part of their basic education.
In other words, while cutting-edge science changes constantly, art is evergreen. It can pass through the hands of ten generations without losing its potency. That’s why it’s one of the best ways to map and understand a culture.
SO WHEN DID PUBLIC SCHOOLS START DOWNPLAYING THE ARTS?
Two words: Cold War.
American schools began to elevate math and science in the late 1950s as a response to tensions between the USA and the Former Soviet Union. Basically, national leaders saw science, tech, engineering and math (“STEM” subjects) as the best way to stay ahead of the Soviets. If kids were interested in math and science, they would grow up to develop new technology, weaponry, and aerospace programs. That was the logic–and as I type on a MacBook Air, it seemed to work.
Unfortunately, this created a see-saw effect in public education — when one budget goes up, the other goes down. As the United States began passing legislation like the National Defense Education Act (1958), the budget for STEM education was raised. At the same time, more schools began to treat the arts as secondary subjects.
TODAY, MANY SCHOOLS ARE STARTING TO REDISCOVER THE VALUE OF AN ARTS EDUCATION.
Students who take art and music are four times more likely to be recognized for academic achievement. Studying music and theatre has actually been proven to improve math and science test scores. In fact, many of the leading STEM nations, including Japan, Hungary, and the Netherlands, require schools to fund the arts seriously.
Fortunately, public schools is not the only way to give your child a musical head start. That’s one reason we view our work at Learning Allegro as so critical to a child’s development. Music studios, art lessons, and community theatres are great ways to expose your child to the arts…and that exposure will positively impact the rest of their formal education.
Music and art are more than just fun creative outlets. They help us interact with our world intellectually!
WHETHER YOUR CHILD IS A FUTURE SCIENTIST, ARTIST, OR SOMETHING IN BETWEEN, LEARNING ALLEGRO OFFERS A VARIETY OF MUSIC AND ARTS COURSES TO HELP THEM GROW. BE SURE TO VISIT OUR WEBSITE FOR MORE INFORMATION. ASK US ABOUT OUR SUMMER CAMPS!