While math and science are fundamental for a good high school education, adding art appreciation to the curriculum can enhance every student’s educational performance.
Faced with strict budgets, many public high schools have cut back on teaching the arts. Band, music and drama classes, along with the study of art history, often are the first courses to be cut from the curriculum. High school social studies continues to cover major wars, history and politics, but art appreciation and art history seem largely ignored.
A Harris Poll asked questions about the value of including the arts in public education. A whopping 93 percent of the respondents said that the arts are an essential part of any well-rounded education. In a similar vein, 89 percent of Americans believed that the arts are important enough to be included as part of the curriculum.
A teacher could spend a full semester on the world’s greatest artists like Da Vinci, Michelangelo and Picasso, and still not have time to talk about more recent acclaimed artists like Andy Warhol or Jean-Michel Basquiat. By necessity, a high school art appreciation course could not go into any great detail about any single subject.
Art matters for many different reasons. One can study history by tracing the timeline of the different art movements through the centuries. Throughout history, artists reflected the time in which they were living. Whether it was the Great Italian artists during the Renaissance or the Impressionists of the late nineteenth century, art is a pictorial representation of a moment frozen in time.
While learning about the masterpieces of Rembrandt, Raphael and Van Eyck, high school social studies students also can gain insight about the times when the artist lived.
Not everyone can be a great artist, but everyone can learn to love and appreciate art. Some students may become so intrigued by the subject that they will go on to major in art in college. Every student will learn skills that can translate to other subjects and serve them well throughout their lives.