I know that most of us who are reading this blog have a strong belief that the arts are vital to education. But as I am often asked about why I believe so strongly in the arts and about what an arts education can really do, I sometimes question my purpose. I know that I and my like minded colleagues believe there should be more of the arts in schools – but what do the students think?
I recently surveyed 27 Washington, DC and Baltimore, MD public high school students outside of the art room. Most – but not all – students were currently or had previously taken a variety of arts classes, including visual arts, chorus, band, orchestra, and theatre. I asked a series of questions pertaining to their perceptions of the arts program in their high school. The questioning included whether students felt that art should be a requirement in high school, what subject the students viewed as “most important”, and what skills the students have learned through the arts and how those skills will help them in school, in their lives and in the future.
The good news: nearly 80% of the students surveyed believe there should be an art requirement in high school. The students had various insightful reasons about why it is important to have art in their schools. Many students thought the arts were a valuable tool for self-expression, stress relief and an outlet for working through personal issues. Read the rest of this entry »