The Fight For Arts Education Education Essay

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The issue being addressed in my report is the continuing act of cut funding to the arts in Albuquerques public schools and its effects on the student population. As a graduated high school student, I can vouch for the sever lack of artistic enthusiasm in the public school system. In this report, I analyzed several case studies and articles on the subject of arts education and its effects on students. In order to compile a sound argument for more funding to local public schools, I first looked at the general effects of arts education programs from different parts of the country. These effects included student social adjustment, cognitive function and overall benefits. Other issues addressed in this report are the effects of arts education on youth outlook and wellbeing, and its long term effects on students, from both high school and postsecondary education.


As a student of the University of New Mexico in the Fine Arts program, I am very interested in the effects of arts education; not only its effects on my education but also the education of the youth in my community. My purpose in researching this issue is to find out exactly how much this affects students at both the high school and college level. In order to establish grounds for supporting the continuing education of fine arts in New Mexico this report utilizes several case studies to explain the benefits that the arts can bring to students. In the long run, the "Arts" works as a vehicle for understanding one another and oneself, thus making it a very important aspect to learn, experience and appreciate.


While conducting research on the UNM databases I found that many of the articles and periodicals had no real scientific basis, most were just interviews. Rather than relying on articles that purely related the teacher and student relationship to academic success, I wanted to also include the actual physical and mental effects that an education in the art has on an individual. Luckily, there were a number of case studies conducted specifically for this purpose, to restore funding and support the teachings of music, media arts, dance, theatre, literary arts and visual arts. In my researched I focused on the engagement and success of students in both High School and in College. Because education has such a large effect on youth culture, and vice versa, it seemed appropriate to study the time period in which we as humans reach both full lawful and physical development, high school to college age. Also, as an undergraduate in a fine arts program I am experiencing the effects of my arts education, or rather lack thereof; and I fear that the quality of my education will become less significant if the funding to the arts programs at University continue to be cut. The case studies researched for this report include half related information from high school level and college level education. This will be separated into three spheres of beneficial effects and overall successes of the students; One, the social aptitude and communication; two, brain and cognitive development; three, self-worth and confidence. The research has been broken down in this way in order to maximize the potential for activism for funding and convenience to benefits that are not only important to students but also parents and teachers.


In the social sphere of art education, researchers found though an ethnographic study of a youth poetry program that psychological benefits for students appeared after the creation and performance of poetry was developed, in addition to improved work ethic when collaborating with peers and mentors. (Weinstein). In the postsecondary arena, the Grace and Wells comparative case study found that participants in the program developed their various abilities and skills to tell their struggles regarding issues of minority sexual orientation in the framework of mainstream society. Through this intrapersonal communication, participants developed artistic capacities ensuing a better understanding and awareness of themselves and helped to resolve potential conflicts with individual religious affiliation and culture. In the Milgram study, while looking at the quality and quantity of experience in artistic extracurricular activates in high school, such as band, dance, other preforming arts and traditional and media arts, evidence suggests that creative measurements have higher predictability rates of success than that of other assessments. "Correlations between participants' scores on the TAAI and their levels of performance in their respective domains were 0.36 for art, 0.57 for dance, 0.42 for drama, and 0.62 for social leadership. These correlations indicate that there is a substantial relationship between youths' involvement and accomplishment in challenging, non-compulsory activities in an artistic domain as measured by the TAAI and their creative talent in that domain."(Milgram). Meaning that students involved in the varying art area performed better than those not in the programs. Dunbar's study uses neuroscientific methods to examine the cognitive developmental differences between theatre, dance, music, and non-art students over a course of three years. In this, Dunbar found that performing art students exhibited more "divergent thinking" than non-performers and that music students showed differences in "working memory" compared to non-musicians, in other words, the results showed that different regions of the brain where active when completing a cognitive task and is important because this indicated that learning these kinds of "expertise" can lead to activation in the linguistic areas of the brain associated with conceptual thinking.


In the Weinstein study, it has been illustrated that spoken-word programs not only encourage the growth of an academic mind but also the development of the person as a whole. By incorporating learned skills from writing and performing, these programs encourage community building and the resulting relationship helps form an outlet for at risk youth and gives them the skills to become successful. The findings of the Grace & Wells study demonstrate the value of art programs by helping students unearth personal and cultural struggles and allows them to build a thicker skin in order to explore the struggles of adolescence, like identity, culture, and communication. Ultimately, arts encourage growth and resilience against oppression of their individual heritage and personality. While the findings of the Milgram report support current research of adolescents' participation in the arts results in higher adult satisfaction, it may also suggest that there should be higher amounts of creative testing included with standardized tests and college testing exams. By researching the physical developmental differences between performing and non-performing art students you can evaluate the significance that the arts has on development. From these studies, one can find that not only does education in the arts benefit the development of a student both physically and socially, but can also work as a form of therapeutic


Most all research done in recent years will tell you that education in the arts not only improves the cognitive function of a student but also the mental wellbeing of a student. The push for arts education is still a very relevant issue in the U.S., particularly in our own state of New Mexico. This issue is not going away and the push for more arts is becoming even more relevant with the introduction to the arts in youth media. You can find numerous television shows and movies that support and urge the arts in schools as both classes and extracurricular activities, productions like Fox's Glee and Fame. However, without the actual scientific evidence to back up the practicality of an arts education, saving art programs seems like a hopeless feet. The Arts is something I find to be very personal and I know from experience that a good education and opportunity to showcase one's own artistic abilities can make all the difference in the world as far as bettering your own self-confidence and general outlook.

"The literate identity that teen poets develop through participation in YSW programming has multiple implications: it can provide the sense of belonging that teenagers often yearn for, it fosters a healthy sense of competition as teens strive to be as good as the peers and established artists whose work they are regularly exposed to, and it gives them an understanding of how artistic communities function and how they can themselves enter or establish such communities for themselves."(Weinstein, 22).

From this I can recommend further action be taken to renew and restore the art programs to Albuquerque public schools and surrounding areas with the presentation of this recent research into the benefits that an arts education can provide.