ART with SCIENCE-SCIENCE with ARTS — Justify Studying the ARTS?

This morning I saw this blog published two days ago on the New York Times blog about the benefits of studying music that last a lifetime. I am always happy to see the positive effects of music study as I believe in it. What is odd to me is that we constantly have to justify that it is okay to spend time and money studying music or learning about art and the skills needed to do both visual art and music.

Should we spend time studying art history and its influence on many other disciplines and the development of society? This questions seems like a no brainer to me. Why wouldn’t we want to know what comprises our cultural and artistic history?  All of the arts are reflected in society in one way or another. Should we study the arts for the art’s sake?  Do we need creative expression? Self-Expression? Should we learn about the values that the visual arts teach?  Color? Perspective? Design? Should we learn music?  After all, it is another language. Should we study how music developed as an art form and how world events and politics are often reflected in the music of the day? Can science be done without the arts? Can you invent without understanding the principles of design? Can you invent without having used your mind to go beyond the limits of the facts? Can you explore without your imagination?

Should we spend time on things that are not producing something?  Or do we need to re-think what “producing something” means? Do you believe that only learning the facts that can be repeated back is producing something? If we can fill in a circle on a high stakes test that is the correct answer, is that producing something?

If we study how-to – let’s say math and science – to learn the possibility of innovation, invention, or designing something that makes life better, easier or more efficient.  What does that task entail? Can we create something new without using knowledge we have learned from the past?  What does it take to design something?  Do we need our imagination?  Do we use spatial skills? Is there science without the arts? Is there art without mathematics and science?

Do we as a society want to promote a learning environment that is sterile and free of creative expression and innovative thought?

Dare we not to dare?

Life is multi faceted and there is a lot to learn to explore our world and hypothesize about what could be or might be. Again, President Kennedy said it so many years ago:

There is no strife, no prejudice, no national conflict in outer space as yet. Its hazards are hostile to us all. Its conquest deserves the best of all mankind, and its opportunity for peaceful cooperation many never come again. But why, some say, the moon? Why choose this as our goal? And they may well ask why climb the highest mountain? Why, 35 years ago, fly the Atlantic? Why does Rice play Texas?

We choose to go to the moon. We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win, and the others, too.           President John F. Kennedy, September 12, 1962, at Rice University, Houston, Texas

So let’s just do it and stop questioning and justifying. The arts are needed to benefit science. They are needed to help the social/emotional well-being of our students. It is all connected and certainly, it is anything but not productive.

You can read the NY Times blog HERE.  It discusses music study as a benefit to auditory skills later in life.

Tell me what you think. Why do you want to study the arts?  Why do you think children should study the arts?  What have the arts added to your classroom?

Should we hang these up – or keep on moving forward?   

Categories: 21st Century Education, arts for arts sake, Arts Integrated Education, creativity, critical thinking, Education reform, Imagination, Innovation, integrated curriculum, social/emotional wellness, STEAM, STEM education, Uncategorized


  1. Hi Ruth
    I really enjoyed reading your posts about Arts and Science and how to make STEM a reality. My first child has just started school and there are small things that make me question whether her creativity is being stiffled or encouraged. It is always wonderful to see them develop and learn new things, but with a creative mind you can see other ways of doing things and answering a question. Questioning the world around you is a fantastic skill to give any child.

    • Thanks for you comment. I am happy to hear that you are advocating for your child. Young child are easily engaged this way and it sets their motivation to learn for the future. Much of learning is learning how to learn, not what to learn, and best it is not stifled in young children. I think all children want to learn. The problem is what happens to that creativity and innate ability when kids go to school.
      Thanks again.

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