Art and music – two of the endangered animals in our school system today.

I find it mind boggling that so many people consider these courses to be fluff that take up class instructional time.  Sure, there are studies that show students who participate in these pursuits develop stronger math skills (check out one link here), but I don’t need scientific studies to prove that more well rounded children are stronger overall.

Frankly, I’m flummoxed that this isn’t obvious.

Let’s focus on art for today.  Some adults have gone so far as to complain about the small amount of school funding that actually goes toward art instruction for our elementary students, and you know what they say about little pitchers having big ears.  I literally cringed the day a fifth grade student complained to me about the PTO funds put toward a 3D printer for the art teacher, stating that money could have been used to repair kickballs. Wonder where he picked up that attitude.

Kickballs?  Really?!

Now, I’m not saying physical education isn’t important because we all know it is, but how awesome is it that kids this young will get to see technology like a 3D printer in action?  That’s the sort of thing that inspires creativity and innovation.  It could light the passion that eventually leads one of those children into a profession.  All from an investment in the art program.

But let’s talk about all the little ways art makes a difference.  It’s a creative outlet, introducing students to a method of expressing their thoughts and feelings that they might not otherwise discover.  My kids have learned about ceramics, pop art, and paper weaving.  They’ve worked with paint and practiced the effects of shading with pencil.  They even dabbled in graphic design using their own names.  And those are just the ones off the top of my head!

Do they love it?  Well, Bear does and T-man emphatically does not, but they both came away from art classes having learned valuable lessons.

Bear discovered a passion for sketching and has begun experimenting with paints.  She loves working with color on her mandalas, and works in graphic design through an iPad app.  But those are just the methods she’s enjoying.  Art has taught Bear persistence, humility, and overwhelming pride in her own accomplishment when she’s completed something to her satisfaction.  Stretching her brain creatively helps her to flex those muscles in other areas – problem solving, leadership, and persuasive argument all benefit from a strong creative approach.

As for T-man?  He does not choose art voluntarily as a pastime.  It just isn’t his groove.  But being exposed to art in school has benefited him as well.  T-man’s admiration of Picasso’s skillful technique was genuine when we visited the museum in Barcelona, and afterward he spoke intelligently about which style of painting during Picasso’s life had impressed him most. He enjoys architecture and can appreciate the differences between modern and gothic structures.  At the most basic level, art class hones his listening skills and ability to follow instructions on an assignment he isn’t exactly passionate about (something we can all agree is a valuable life skill).  It’s taught him to try things outside his comfort zone, and that even though they might not be technically “perfect” they are still valued.

We’re blessed to have an art program in our local school, and I truly find it heartbreaking that this is one of the areas often cut when budgets are tightened or test scores come under fire. Stripping art out of our children’s lives does them a disservice that we’ll never truly be able to justify.

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Visit Linda’s blog to join her Stream of Consciousness Saturdays.  Do a little free form writing if that’s your jam or just check out the links in the comments for some other interesting posts about this week’s prompt:  “art.”