When picturing an average school day, the core classes typically come to mind: math, science, English, history, and a foreign language. This idea isn’t bad, I agree that a foundation in math helps with problem-solving, and English class helps students communicate their thoughts in a scholarly way. However, these fields should not outshine the importance of the arts.
Most kids, if not required, would probably not take an art or music class, it feels like a distraction from their already heavy course load. But why is there such a stigma that they are less important than the academics? Not only do the arts open up more opportunities job wise, they also help self-development. Arts enforce the growth of perspective first established in academics. Learning to read music is similar to learning a new language; it requires practice and does not yield immediate results. But differently than linguistics, it requires cooperation. Most often, the music classes offered at schools are taught in slews, like band that usually has a hundred kids. Because of the large numbers, the kids not only learn to play their instrument well but also play with others successfully. Creating music isn’t just about the notes; it entails dynamics and the blending of sound. All these factors require listening to your peers and being attuned to what is going on around you, not simply fiddling with the keys when the music asks for it.
Furthermore, the tasks accomplished in the arts are long term, taking months to do successfully. Yes, it means having patience but also tenacity, working towards a goal that you won’t feel the rewards from immediately. In art classes, kids don’t go in knowing how to paint or use charcoal, these tools are slowly ingrained in their brain. Artistic skills require time and dedication, not just memorization. Knowing when to use affect and effect doesn’t have the same feeling of accomplishment that painting the Mona Lisa probably did. I bring this point up because most of my experiences with goals in school focused around short term projects and assignments.
The relief or accomplishment I felt when completing a test was usually short-lived. I don’t remember every physics test I took last year with clarity, and this is because the work that went into the assessments was briefer, close to a few hours. This isn’t to say that I wasn’t working hard all year long, but my pay off for studying was every two weeks, rather than in band which was every few months. So why is this good? Wouldn’t it just make kids lose focus? Well yes and no. True, you have to stay focused and that can be hard for some kids but it makes the result much more rewarding. All of my band performances from my past four years of high school stick out significantly to me because of the months of work I put in to the music.
Without this deviation from purely academic studies, students are stunting their possibility of growth and maturity.
Helena Yawin is a student intern at The Herald and resides in Plainville.