Imagine a world that all traces of the fine arts were completely forgotten and the idea of culture is stripped of all merit and eminence. If you’ve got an idea of where North Carolina’s public education system is headed you’ll recognize that scenario as something that very well may be the case in the coming years. With the American economy the way it is there seems to be no end to the downsizing and budget cuts in sight so our state government is trying its hardest to make ends meet by slashing funds to public education along with other state funded programs left and right. After making their cost/benefit analysis, public high schools are responding to these cuts by slowly disintegrating arts programs from the curriculum, inching ever closer to the disappearance of these programs altogether.
My own view is that if students aren’t at least given the option to take classes pertaining to alternate forms of expression, like the fine arts, how would they learn to appreciate the plethora of cultures that are very different from our own? A society or government regime that tries to suppress the fine arts robs their people of the intellectual wholeness and open mindedness that is key to maintaining any civilized society. This state of affairs has been seen before in societies such as that of the Nazis and the Soviet Union (M. Streich, Suite101.com, Importance of Fine Arts and Music in the High School Curriculum), both of which democratic America denounces.
Though I concede that it’s important to focus on general education and that these classes may not benefit every single student that passes through the public education system, I still maintain that these extracurricular classes may prove beneficial to a good number of students. For example, in a study titled “The Role of the Fine And Performing Arts in High School Dropout Prevention” by the Center for Music Research at Florida State University, many students who were labeled as at risk of not completing their high school careers attribute their achievement to their participation in the arts programs at their school (T. Hawkins, washingtonpost.com, Will Less Art and Music in the Classroom Really Help Students Soar Academically?). Considering this, it seems that more often than not the incorporation of fine arts in public high schools help students rather than hurt them.
Although some might object that if it weren’t for fine arts programs students would focus more on their general education classes, I would reply that this is not the case. Many of my friends in high school that took various art classes said that being able to take those classes motivated them more to succeed in all of their classes due to the fact that those precious class periods could be spent focusing on learning and applying what they learn about art rather than worrying about their other classes.
This issue is important because if the fine arts were stripped from high schools that would leave an innumerable amount of people unemployed and struggling to make ends meet. This would cause even more economic instability, causing there to be more budget cuts, leading to the disintegration of more extracurricular classes in high schools.
If not for the fine arts, the history of entire civilizations like Ancient Greece and Roman society may be lost forever and if we are to completely remove classes that teach these subjects from public high schools they may as well not have existed at all. If keeping the youth of America cultured isn’t reason enough to keep the fine arts in schools, then at least think of the impact it will make when the upcoming generations won’t be able to understand and interpret the events depicted in artistic masterpieces, like in the painting Death of Julius Caesar by Vincenzo Camuccini. After all, in the words of George Santayana, “those who cannot remember the past are doomed to repeat it.”
Hawkins, Tyleah. “Will Less Art and Music in the Classroom Really Help Students Soar Academically?” Washington Post. The Washington Post, 28 Dec. 2012. Web. 28 Aug. 2013.
Streich, Michael. “Importance of Fine Arts and Music in the High School Curriculum.”Suite101. N.p., 25 Mar. 2013. Web. 28 Aug. 2013.