Art in Action: Are Arts Subjects Actually Important?

As J.M. Barrie once said, “If you cannot teach me to fly, teach me to sing.”  Arts subjects give students the means to express their personality, thoughts, ideas and knowledge freely.

Some people hold the belief that the Arts are vital to a well-rounded education and well-rounded students, yet other students and their parents/guardians tend to focus on academia alone, which may actually be counter-productive to achieve remarkable results.

The main predicament in state schools is, of course, finance. All schools and teaching staff want to achieve good assessment grades, have a positive effect on the community around them and churn out creative, confident and clever young people. Unfortunately, government budgets just don’t stretch far enough to fund the best of both worlds.
But it has actually been proven that early exposure to music, art and drama promotes activity in the brain, help children understand other subjects more clearly, cause them to gain life and social skills such as teamwork, communication and problem-solving skills and can help develop self-esteem, motivation and discipline. 

For instance, drawing is one of the most academically effective activities young students can do, as it directly links to reading, writing and mathematics and provides a basis for other creative processes such as painting and sculpting. According to the ISSUU, pupils who get to grips with the Arts are four times more likely to participate in a Science or Maths fair and 4 times more likely to be recognised for academic achievement than those who have little or no artistic interests.


Bernice McCabe of North London Collegiate School, stated in 2012 that she was “convinced that education in art and music is a crucial element in the curricular entitlement of every child.” McCabe also explained that industries related to the creative arts currently employ over two million people in the UK and that the Arts are an expanding sector in the global market.

Additionally, many pupils actually go to school and keep attending because of the Arts as they tend to be hands-on areas of the curriculum which focus on instantaneous results, product and project development and collaboration. Children also learn to observe, interpret, see other people’s perspectives (e.g. that of an artist) and analyse their work as well as the work of others. They also pick up cultural knowledge, visual learning skills, historical facts, a range of vocabulary and a mathematical mindset- to name a few!

Learning a musical instrument is often perceived by less wealthy parents as an activity reserved for privileged families, but it should be a key component of the education of all students. The Benefits of Arts Foundation reported that low-income students who are “highly engaged in the Arts are more likely than their peers with low arts involvement to have obtained gainful employment…and volunteer in their communities.”

As young people learn to read music and play an instrument, they also pick up mathematical skills such as number manipulation, pattern recognition and proportional thinking. In fact, a study by the John Hopkins School of Education found that Art improves academic achievement and students who actively participate in some form of art actually perform better in other subjects than students who do not.

Music in particular, can create a visual context for learning about historical periods for students to really understand what life was like for people in the era they are studying. Art is another fantastic means for this along with the skills to interpret and appreciate with an inquisitive, independent spirit. In fact, the Arts encourage independent thinking and learning that encourage
children to think and analyse in depth.

Academic and Arts subjects support each other; one area cannot flourish without the other. Many academic subjects require a little imagination and creativity and Arts subjects require a mature, intellectual, analytical mindset. So in theory, students cannot succeed in one spectrum of the curriculum without the other.

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