From the mouths of teens, why arts funding should not be cut from schools

A few weeks ago, I volunteered for the Alliance for Young Artists and Writers (under Scholastic Inc.) to help run their annual Scholastic Art & Writing Awards.  Hundreds of middle school and high school students gathered from around the country to be recognized for outstanding visual art works or writing submissions. After seeing samples of some of the works from the award recipients, I was completely in awe at the amount of talent that surrounded me, especially at such a young age.

I was also blown away by their responses to the issue of arts funding. One of my jobs as volunteer was to survey the visual art students about their experience of taking art classes, so that their responses could be used in a campaign to keep arts programs in schools. The answers that I got from the students were amazing, so insightful and honest, many even profoundly philosophical about why art is important. I was so impressed with their responses, that I’d like to share some of them here. What follows are some anonymous responses from high school students to the last question of the survey (stated in their exact words).

Why is it not a good time to cut school art programs?

  • Why would any time be a good time to cut art classes in school?
  • It’s like dreaming – it gives anyone a reason to wake up in the morning.
  • It defines our culture and shapes America.
  • Now more than ever, students need to know there are all different ways to be happy.
  • Because creativity is the only thing to get us out of our current predicament
  • Cutting art programs would deprive the world of a generation of package and graphic designers.
  • We need a voice.
  • Because art lets us express individuality, and without that, what are we?
  • Kids will become more like horses with blinders, not observing everything.
  • In troubled times, art is the only thing we can turn to that makes sense.
  • If you get rid of someone’s creativity, you get rid of their reasons to live.
  • Because art is a very important part of everybody’s education, not just those interested in art
  • Because art is a root to what makes us human

It’s great  for teachers and parents to fight for arts programming in school, but I think it’s so wonderful to hear it from the students themselves. Their responses are such inspiring words for why arts in general are so important in our country, now and always. With such bright and talented young people, I am hopeful for the future. But I’m also struck with the need to keep nourishing these young creators through arts education, and to keep promoting art across the country.

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3 Comments

  1. norwegianartist

     /  June 28, 2010

    Art needs to be treated as a discipline like any other, and we do students a disservice when we send teachers untrained and unskilled in advanced drawing into the field. Too often, teachers with their expertise in history or English (two lamentably overworked fields) find themselves “teaching” art, with their struggles generally ending in craft projects, not art instruction.

    I have spoken often in public and private school art classes, and I have been sadly surprised by 1) the lack of training on the instructor’s part and 2) the air of, “Just do anything you feel like — it’s all art, and you just have to find your muse inside you.” In speaking with the students, I find that they crave concrete instruction — they are not satisfied with what they are drawing and they are acutely aware that this lack of satisfaction has to do with their inexpertise. They do not want a self-esteem boost; they want instruction.

    We do not send biologists out into the field to just “do biology.” Neither do we expect physicists to “find their inner physicist.” We expose them to a rigorous period of training in which they study concrete facts about and skills dealing with their field of choice.

    Reply
  2. That’s a great point, Norwegianartist. There is definitely a need for quality arts education in schools. How do we expect art to move forward in the world if artists are not trained as well as those in other careers? But first we must focus on keeping art classes from being cut completely. Then once funding is secured, perhaps changes can be made to actually improve the level of instruction.

    Reply
  3. maya

     /  January 23, 2011

    Thank you Meagan Bruskewicz and norwegianartist i have read both of your articles and they both have realy helped me with my project. Ok i have a speech class and i pick the subject why should the government keep funding art programs and i have learned some goo d inf from both of you THANK YOU sooo muchhhh .If any one if you can help me any more plez do not hesat to send me a messag at my email or this place

    Reply

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