The importance of arts education has been fading in Minnesota public schools. However, art and music departments serve as vital emotional and academic stepping stones for children throughout their educations.
Visual and musical arts have multiple benefits to developing children of all ages. Students must use multiple skill sets in order to learn and incorporate music into their lives. Not only are children required to use both their eyes and ears, but they also must explore the smaller muscles necessary to play a musical instrument.
Those who choose to become musicians must also have an innate sense of self-discipline; that is, they must practice, learn and, on occasion, memorize pieces of music. Some studies have shown that those who participate in the musical arts perform better on their exams and have more complex brain processes than those who don’t.
Despite these obvious benefits of arts education, arts departments are often pushed aside to maximize math and science test scores. Schools have lost sight of what’s truly important, which should be the enrichment that students get through their education.
For example, in 2012, the Rosemount-Apple Valley-Eagan district was forcing more students into English, math and science classes. Because fewer students were enrolling in art classes, the district had to cut staff in those departments from 10 staff members down to six. Schools continue to overlook the big picture.
Test scores are only one small aspect of the learning experience. Arts education benefits students in enormously important ways, and it may even boost overall test scores. It would be wise for teachers of Minnesota to advocate for helping their own students rather than themselves.