If you ask students (or their parents) to create a list of the most important school subjects, the vast majority of them will probably not put arts education anywhere near the top of that list.
Artistic subjects have long been underappreciated, not just in Singapore, bad all over the world. In today’s technology-driven world, artistic subjects often tend to be looked down upon and considered to be unimportant and unnecessary. However, that couldn’t be further from the truth.
In this article, you will be presented with the arguments in defense of arts education, and hopefully, you will be able to see how arts education benefits the child and helps them become a well-rounded individual.
Here are some reasons why arts education is important for Singaporean students.
1. Arts education helps students become more engaged.
Not all students are equally confident. Shyness and self-consciousness can be detrimental to learning and prevent students from achieving their full potential. Artistic subjects such as drama and theater help students come out of their shells and engage with their peers.
Multiple studies have shown that those who communicate with their peers better and find a common language with other individuals easily tend to be more successful in their careers as well. So, using arts education to develop communication soft skills will aid a child in their effort to become a successful individual.
2. Art education helps students learn how to work in a team.
It goes without saying that human beings achieve better results when they are collaborating with one another. Arts education teachers children to do just that.
The theater is the most obvious example of that. Kids who are participating in a play have to listen to one another and respond accordingly; otherwise, the final result won’t be good.
By being engaged in this type of artistic activity, Singaporean children will develop positive character traits and learn how to collaborate with other members of the team, which will undoubtedly serve them well in their future careers.
3. Art education can help children develop various important soft skills
In the modern-day world, it is undoubtedly important to possess certain hard skills to become successful (for example, computer skills and foreign languages).
But soft skills, which are often underestimated, are just as important for personal and professional success. Being involved in arts helps children develop various crucial soft skills such as problem-solving skills, inventiveness and creativity, decision-making skills, and so on.
Creativity and inventiveness are especially important because 21st-century is the age when automation is becoming increasingly prominent. A significant portion of the jobs which are performed today by humans will probably be automated in the future, which means that human beings will need to use their creativity to come up with new ways to occupy themselves.
Researchers predict that those who have well-developed soft skills will be less affected by this transition. And one of the best ways to develop social skills (especially in children) is getting involved in the arts.
4. Arts education helps students do better in other subjects.
Artistic activities such as painting and sculpting develop certain skills such as proportional thinking, number manipulation, and measurement.
In art lessons, students learn geometric relationships, gain a better understanding of three-dimensional objects, and so on. Obviously, skills like these will be useful in subjects such as math.
Students also learn about various historical periods in music, painting, and drama, which may increase their interest in learning about other events from the same historical period.
The organization called Americans for Arts claims that students who participate in artistic activities for about 10 hours each week are more likely to achieve academic success, participate in science fairs, math fairs, or win an award in a writing competition.
5. Arts education teaches leadership skills.
Students who are regularly participating in artistic activities learn how to become effective leaders and develop vital skills such as decision-making skills and strategy building skills. As well as this, they learn how to reflect on their past actions and plan what they are going to do next.
Needless to say, all of these behavioral attributes will be immensely useful when they grow up and start building their careers. Students with well-developed leadership skills are the ones who make the most difference in the world in a meaningful way.
In addition, research conducted at the University of Illinois indicates that students who participate in various artistic activities such as painting, drawing, singing, and so on are characterized later on by higher levels so social tolerance and civic engagement.
This means that being involved in arts doesn’t just make you more interesting or more successful in your career; it simply makes you a better human being.
Some final thoughts...
Although the vast majority of the population would not deem art to be as crucial as STEM subjects, for example, people still believe that arts education is required for a well-rounded education. However, despite this, the number of students who receive arts education has shrunk significantly in recent decades. One of the reasons for this is the increase in standardized testing.
Although benefits accrued from arts education are definitely noticeable over a period of time, they are quite difficult to measure with a standardized test. And since schools are focusing their resources, mainly on tested subjects, arts have fallen out of favor.
Hopefully, this article made it clear that participating in artistic activities brings many different types of benefits to the child, thus making you appreciate arts education more than you did before.
Here are some more posts that may interest you:
Secondary school Music & Art Elective Programme (MEP)
Why Singapore's education system is the world's best