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December 27, 2022

Aside from letting leftist indoctrination take over our public school system, the biggest mistake we conservatives made in education over the years was in thinking that art and music classes were expendable luxuries and should be slashed to concentrate on “the three ‘R’s.” Not only are art and music classes important in themselves, but they are also beneficial to helping students excel in other subjects, including math and reading.

As the so-called “triumph of the nerds” has shown us, the twenty-first century will belong to the creative; they will thrive and prosper, both as individuals and as societies. The creative ones will be the competitive ones. This is why China goes to so much trouble and expense to try to steal our patents and infiltrate our universities and corporate R&D departments.

While you can't teach creativity the way you do state capitals and multiplication tables, you can nurture it by offering art and music to all of our students, all the way through school. I believe that our secret weapons for remaining creative and competitive in the global economy are art and music, what I call our "weapons of mass instruction."

Studies have shown a direct correlation between music education and math scores. Music develops both sides of the brain and improves spatial reasoning and the capacity to think in the abstract. Music teaches students how to learn, and that skill is transferable to learning foreign languages, algebra, or history.

Art and music education levels the differences in academic performance among students from different socioeconomic backgrounds and reduces delinquent behavior. Art and music education results in what all parents and school districts are looking to brag about: higher SAT scores. I am a living example of how learning to play guitar can take a shy kid out of his shell and set him on a path to success in life he might otherwise never have imagined. This is why I support organizations that provide instruments to underprivileged students.

Some children decide early on that they're not good at school and they hate it. Art and music can save these children and keep them in school. For them, biology may be broccoli and Spanish may be spinach, but when they get to art class or band practice, that's a hot fudge sundae. If it weren't for these opportunities where they feel successful and worthwhile, where they're enthusiastic and engaged, many students would drop out of school. According to research by the Education Commission of the States, there is an established correlation between art and music education and high school dropout rates.

It infuriates me when people, especially my fellow conservatives, dismiss art and music as extracurricular, extraneous, and expendable. To me, they're essential to a well-rounded education.

In reality, creativity doesn't really have to be "taught" because it is naturally "caught" by every child.

Do you have to beg a three-year-old to sing or a four-year-old to draw pictures or a five-year-old to playact various roles when playing fireman, doctor, or parent? What happens between the naturally creative early years and the bored-to-death teenage years? Those years are spent in a classroom in which students are told to sit down, be quiet, face forward, get your head in the book, and be still.

Students today aren't dumb. The people who run the educational establishment, who want to create a conveyor belt that treats students like parts in a manufacturing plant (like the one in the Pink Floyd video for “Another Brick in the Wall”), are the dumb ones. And there's no reason to let it stay that way.

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Comments 11-20 of 38

  • Janice Zebell

    12/28/2022 10:53 AM

    This is a great commentary on the importance of bringing art and music back into the lives of students. Having taught school for many years in several different schools I know from experience that many students are not the cut and dried variety but need adventure in their learning, a foundational way of expressing themselves through the arts. They need guidance from strong Christian teachers.

  • Pennie Smith

    12/28/2022 09:16 AM

    Hi Mr Huckabee,
    Our school systems have been failing children since the late 70's and worsened when "No child left behind" crap started. They don't TEACH anymore, they merely "teach the test" to make sure they get their money. And don't get me started on "new math!"
    Have a Great day!

  • Jean Phillips

    12/28/2022 04:04 AM

    I agree 100%! I was also very shy and Choir helped me considerably.
    My Dad also FORCED me to take piano lessons (NOW, for which I'm
    deeply grateful!).

  • Jerry

    12/27/2022 10:29 PM

    Leaving a portion of the population away from hidden talents as art music dance is a Colossal error like u stated maybe a bit shy at an age and the Qatar may have led you others that allowed the huck to come out and become the guy I like to listen too so sharpe filled with common sense and solutions solutions that allows a society to prosper I love the instruments and the artist that play them most of them bring so much pleasure in so many different ways and that is the secret to a healthy society along with our tradesmen our medical teams And our clergy

  • Norma holmes

    12/27/2022 09:51 PM

    Art and music also bridge language and cultural differences. — agree 100% with your case for both through high school

  • Elaine Liming

    12/27/2022 07:53 PM

    I began teaching in the elementary grades. I was fortunate to have had art and music in my school years. That experience helped me to focus on the total gifts of the children I taught. My students loved art and music time. Both were included in all the subjects I had to teach for that grade level. My students thrived on my approach. My nickname "the singing teacher". I agree with you that these subjects should always be a part in developing the total child. My later years in a Catholic High school I continued my approach. I taught religion. I received a cd on the gospel of Mark. The music enabled me to teach the total gospel's meaning. Their final exam---I will play a song from the gospel of Mark; tell me the meaning, I went through all the songs on the cd. Lowest grade was 89%. With religious art samples, the life and times of Jesus gave them meaning. Many of my former students have gone to the Holy Land and Rome and have written me notes of thanks for those religion art classes. Thanks for writing about this. Art and music to mean are soul gifts. Thanks again

  • Ellena ANDERSON

    12/27/2022 06:20 PM

    Totally true! Another loss: the lost art of cursive writing -- or legible writing, spelling and grammar of any kind. How does a teacher not know the difference between "I" and "me," or that "it's" is not a possessive???

  • Barbara Pugh

    12/27/2022 05:42 PM

    You are so right about music and/or art keeping kids in school. If it wasn't for band in high school, I probably would have dropped out. Instead, in order to keep my 1st chair cornet/trumpet position, I was required to keep at least a "C" average. However, I did better than that. I know many other kids in band were similar to me. And now, at age 75, I still play in a community jazz band and concert band and it keeps the cobwebs out of my brain.

  • Margaret Howerton

    12/27/2022 05:32 PM

    I completely agree. There are many people today who do not know how to read music. To me, it is essential to know how. Some people may not excel in other subjects, but could do so in music or art, and that could eventually create their dream job or career.

  • Rebecca Hammack

    12/27/2022 04:17 PM

    This article about the music and art programs is so true. When in school I was bullied badly. But the music department was my sanctuary of peace. Music helped me deal with the other teenage problems that I dealt with and gave me not only a chance at a place to succeed but the release into a creativity instead of anger was a great blessing.

    I would also thing the industrial arts departments and home Ec also would have the same effects on the young minds with creative aspects. Thinking outside of the box is taught in all these types of creative programs. And we need those kind of programs to help children find their own self worth and talents .

    I also want to thank you for your Weekend show with your telling of the "real" nativity. It was the most realistic view I have heard told, of a tale watered down into something perfectly beautiful. The reality of being with the animals and the low-ness of a real manger was so much more of a striking story. Putting reality back into the telling of the tale of the coming of the baby Jesus.

    Thank You for sharing your truths in all you speak.