Every year, it seems like another list comes out about the “most profitable” subjects students can study. And, likewise, every year it reopens the debate: is STEM better than the arts because it makes more money? Is STEM better because there’s always a demand for it? The answer to both of those questions is simply “no,” but unpacking why someone would even ask those questions is important to discuss.
For most of history, artisans, artists and creatives were respected on an equal footing as scientists, scholars and explorers. In fact, most of those words were applied to describe the same person! Michelangelo, for example, was both scientist and artist — understanding that the sciences and the arts were essential to growth. However, in education, there are still lingering misunderstandings about the arts and their importance. Here are some key reasons why the arts still matter:
They expand the bounds of creative thinking.
Art forces students to go beyond what they expect to see and dip into their imagination. Painters like Picasso or Dali took everyday objects and interpreted them with a unique flair. Composers like Beethoven pushed the boundaries of the instruments they used, and thus pushed the boundaries of the music we hear today. When students study the humanities, they understand the creative thinking and processes used by artists, and they can also learn to apply that thinking to their own lives. This creativity often extends beyond humanities and into STEM fields.
Students learn to think critically about messages.
Interpreting what an artist meant by a piece of art requires students to put themselves in the place of the artist. They ask questions like “what moved the artist to use these colors”, “how does this piece of music reflect an emotion?”, or “how does the artist want me to feel while experiencing this piece of art?” This critical thinking can be applied to nearly any other subject.
Art fosters justice, equality and equity in students.
Art is often a vehicle for expressing injustices, frustrations, or limitations. By studying art, students can get an idea for what the artist was saying or wanted to tell their audiences.
Art teaches us about different cultures.
Art brings together people of all races, backgrounds, and cultures. Thanks to that unity, we’re able to glimpse into the lives of other people without ever leaving the country.
Students discover an opportunity to express themselves in other ways.
This is one of the most lasting benefits that studying the arts gives students: ideas on how they can take their emotions and transform them into something else. It can be a poem, a piece of music, or a painting, but using art to relay how a child feels can often allow them to explore their feelings more than if they just tried to explain them to an adult.
At Lake Forrest Prep, one of Orlando’s leading private schools, we believe in the value of a well-rounded education that incorporates the humanities and STEM as interconnected studies. To learn more about what Lake Forrest can do for your child, give us a call at 407-331-5144 or schedule a time to tour.