Why Arts Education?

Over the years much rhetoric has been offered to justify the inclusion of arts education in the public schools. Perhaps a simple statement of the value of arts education would serve best.

  1. Dance, music, theatre, and visual art are four arts disciplines which are valuable subjects to study in their own right because they:
    • teach unique forms of aesthetic communication.
    • provide knowledge of the history of many cultures, and
    • foster the development of creativity, critical thinking, and anayltical skills.

  2. A vast body of research (medical, educational, psychological) shows that the four art forms provide a rich sensory environment that encourages and improves learning in many other fields of endeavor, including reading and mathematics.

  3. Census data show that more than one third of the jobs in the U.S. currently require advanced skills in at least one of the four arts disciplines.

It is, therefore, incumbent upon West Virginians to provide genuine opportunities for our children to study dance, music, theatre, and visual art in order that they may:

  • Have the mental stimulation necessary to excel in school.

  • Have proper training for jobs in the publishing, entertainment, design, and other arts-related industries.

  • Experience the joy and beauty of the arts.

To do less, for whatever reason, is to cheat our children -- to close to them forever one-third of the job opportunities existing in this country because we did not offer sufficient training at the elementary and middle school levels. The four arts disciplines are not "frills," but West Virginia's lifeline to improved education and career opportunities for its young people.

Jeanne Moore

1996/1998