Fine Arts and their Importance in the Classroom

Encarta Dictionary defines Fine Arts as “any art form that is not purely aesthetic in nature” (Encarta Dictionary, 2004). This definition can be used to refer to arts in the normal world. However, when it comes to teaching fine arts, it is defined as a subject that is beneficial but not essential to the learning process. It is often eliminated because of lack or money, time constraints, and little learning potential. Fine arts are simply painting and drawing. They are not subjects that can be studied by academic scholars. Victoria Jacobs, writer, says that arts in elementary schools were often separated from core curriculum. Instead, they were offered as enrichment activities that were considered beneficial, but not essential. (Jacobs 1999, p.

Teachers are not aware of the many benefits of an arts-based curriculum. Teachers have “very little understanding of the arts and disciplines of study.” They see arts instruction as teacher-oriented projects that are used to entertain and teach other disciplines. (Berghoff 2003, p. 12). Fine arts allow students to expand their learning and encourage creativity. They also help them understand the core subjects of science, math, language arts, and social studies. Teachers should include all types of fine arts such as theater, visual art and dance in their lesson plans. The arts give students the motivation to understand their education better. Teachers can use the arts to empower students and help them achieve their highest learning level.

Only three reports were published between 1977 and 1988 that highlighted the importance of art education. These reports include Coming to Our Senses by the Arts Education and Americans Panal (1977), Can we Rescue the Arts for American Children (1988), and the most prestigious study, Toward Civilization by the National Endowment for the Arts (1988). These studies proved that art education is essential in providing higher education to our students. These studies confirmed that the arts are beneficial to learning. However, lawmakers didn’t take seriously the 2002 research analysis of Critical Links. Learning in the Arts and Student Academic and Social development “provided evidence for improving learning and achievement as well positive social outcomes when the students’ learning experiences were integrated with the arts” (Burns 2003, p. 5). This analysis focused on keyboard training in a classroom to determine if spatial reasoning scores could be improved. The results were then compared with those who had received no computer training that included fine art. It was found that the learning of the arts improved scores in core subjects like math and science, where spatial reasoning is most important (Swan-Hudkins 2003).

This study shows that a small change in how students learn through the arts can make a big difference to their understandings and learning abilities. A second study found that at-risk students who participated in an arts-based curriculum for one year had an average improvement of eight percentiles on their standardized language arts tests, and 16 percentiles if they were enrolled for two. The percentiles of students who did not engage in this activity did not change (Swan-Hudkins 2003). Although this may not seem like much, it was enough to help at-risk students understand their learning styles and improve their learning habits. This analysis focuses on Sampson, North Carolina schools. Their standardized test scores increased only in schools that had implemented arts education in their schools for two consecutive years (Swan-Hudkins 2003). Every teacher should incorporate the arts into their daily lesson plans. These studies show that students who learn through the arts have higher test scores and learning levels.

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