ILLUSTRATION BY KEN YU

Learning: Art is still a crucial part

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Due to an increasing emphasis in the STEM fields (science, technology, engineering and mathematics), there has been a noticeable lack of focus on the fine arts in student curriculum. The visual and performing arts (VAPA) are just as crucial as other academic subjects and cannot be neglected.

The VAPA promotes self-growth through self-expression using outlets like art and theater. Artists can develop confidence and self-esteem from what they draw, just like how drama students learn to develop confidence in their ability to perform on stage or handle technical aspects behind a show. The experiences a student gains through VAPA can help them build their social skills as they grow from working alongside their classmates. A student cannot lose out on these experiences to focus solely on subjects like math and English, where student collaboration is not always emphasized. Should a student fail to obtain these experiences, they will find it harder to adapt to new environments and collaboration with others will become difficult.

Versatility is nurtured in an environment that equally incorporates both the arts and academics. A well-rounded education is key to future success. Students who have been exposed to both the arts and academics are better suited for real-life situations that often require both logical analysis and creative thinking. In elementary and middle schools, initiatives were taken to incorporate and expose the fine arts into student curriculum such as mandatory music and art classes. The trio of career and technical classes students take in their freshman year also proves to be an example. Leaning too much on either the academics or the VAPA will greatly skew a student’s skill set, which could leave them in unfavorable positions when faced with situations beyond the school environment. 

Through the VAPA, students also receive greater exposure to cultures around the world by the work they develop and encounter during their time in the class. Developing a broader knowledge of world culture also allows students to better work with others from different backgrounds. Students retain a better grasp of the world, which helps them to realize that there is a lot to explore in the world. This realization can spur students on to experience new cultures outside of what they are comfortable with.

While students are required to take a single year of a VAPA class, they often do so out of obligation to fulfill their requirement, which can impact their mindset negatively throughout the course. They may not have the motivation to put in earnest effort because they might not necessarily feel that the class is worth their time or interest. Without any introductory classes to the VAPA like how Explore Wheel introduces technical skills, students will find it difficult to choose a VAPA class suitable for them to fulfill their requirement meaningfully.

The VAPA is an essential part of a student’s education that has to be emphasized in student curriculum. Teachers have to encourage students to engage in the fine arts when they have the opportunity. If not, teachers of the academics must then incorporate elements of creativity into their own curriculum to at least foster creative thinking alongside logical analysis. Missing out on experiences in the fine arts will greatly impact a student’s capability to creatively approach a situation and stunt their growth as a problem solver and an expressive being.

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