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July 8, 2023

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 64

  • Cheryl Ursitz

    07/08/2023 10:55 PM

    I absolutely agree with you about art and music. There have been many studies over many years which show this. My husband and I and our daughter absolutely loved being in the band especially marching band. I loved the movie Mr. Holland's Opus which was the story of my life. The movie with Richard Dryfus and Olympia Dukakis was right on target about how the music program was cut in high school. It came out in the early 90s. You should see it if you haven't already.

  • Desree Pettera

    07/08/2023 10:08 PM

    After I sent my previous comment, I got to read many of the comments.
    All I read pertain to music. I was not drawn to music as an art. I was drawn to the creative arts. Not acting.
    I could disappear while sketching, but I knew nothing.
    I had no idea what art was about. I had never seen a museum.
    It wasn't until I went to a local community college to finish my degree that I found the connection.

    Oh it was a "slice of heaven".

    Too long of a story for just a comment.

    Give kids Art. Real art.
    Desree Pettera

    I am very passionate about this subject because I know what was taken from me.

    I often wonder how many out there are just like me. So sad.

  • Desree Pettera

    07/08/2023 09:28 PM

    So correct!
    I was the creative!
    School robbed me of this. I was programmed and I'm old. This has been going on for a long long time.
    Everything centers around sports.
    I detested sports as a kid. I wanted art.
    I was robbed!
    I am retired now.
    Now I oil paint!
    I am now the artist that I truly always NEEDED & WANTED to be!

    Desree Pettera

    I do believe this is why so many children have problems today.

  • Janie Trowbridge

    07/08/2023 08:38 PM

    Students who take music are better students, make higher grades, and have fewer discipline issues than those that don’t.

  • Wayne H. Graff

    07/08/2023 08:16 PM

    I agree with you 100% Mike. When I was I was in the first and second grades, I really enjoyed music class. When I was in third grade, the music teacher at the junior high had a thought. "We need a boys choir in our town". So he contacted all of the music teachers and asked to make available all of their best singers for try outs. Luckily for me, I was chosen and for the next 3 years I sang first soprano in the choir. We traveled to a few of the larger cities. We were even on TV for the Casey Jones lunch hour program. We had one instance where we met the Vienna Boys choir and spent a night talking with them. It expanded my horizons and set my feet on a bit of a different path. I eventually joined the Air Force and traveled around Europe for 4 years. Saw some amazing architecture and visited the Cathedral in Bonn. That was very interesting as it was almost destroyed in WWII.

  • Geri Giambrone

    07/08/2023 05:17 PM

    You are absolutely correct! Music is very mathematical. Art not only sparks the imagination it also lets you express yourself in an outwardly way.
    Great article!! I hope Sarah brings these back in AR and the rest of the country follows her lead.

  • Leslie McKown

    07/08/2023 05:13 PM

    I think the very same conservative parents that were dismissing Arts and Music as extracurricular, extraneous, and expendable were very vocal about keeping sports - especially football.

  • Germaine Wieman

    07/08/2023 04:21 PM

    I am a teacher(..retired..) of 40 yrs. Elementary School, Junior High and High School Math. In addition, I have been gifted with talents in music and art. These were incorporated into my lessons in the classroom. I am in total agreement with your wise words about music and art in our schools. Thank you.

  • Claire King

    07/08/2023 03:32 PM

    Good Afternoon, As a very old retired teacher I agree with you 100%. I will add a few things I am also a mother and grandmother. I need to add God is also blessing us with three great grandchildren in the next few months. I have seen so many children who were put in what I call educational experts boxes of what they could learn or not learn. I have had parents who had been told that their child would never read, walk, talk or be like a normal child. After teaching for 40 years I am still looking for a normal child. I had a child in my classroom that did not speak but at the ripe old age of three could sit down at a piano and play what ever tune he heard. I had a little boy whose mother was told would never be able to talk and be normal and that little boy grew up to be a minister with many degrees behind his name and be a wonderful servant of the Lords. I happen to know that little boy because he in my son. I had a little girl in my classroom that had so many learning problems but grew up to be a wonderful teachers aid for handicapped adults. She is wonderful and so very loving. I also had a little boy at the age of five could do math in his head faster than I could wright it down on paper. He was pushed and pushed to be perfect and he killed himself at the age of 17 as freshmen in college. I always told all of my incoming parents that they were the first, middle and last teachers of their children. The child was a gift from God and I was just blessed and given the responsibility for a short time to be a part of their lives and their child's life. I used to tell my students or as I always call them my little ones and all of children and grandchildren that God made them just the way He wanted them to be. Now it was my job to share God's love and word with them and help them along their paths. I started telling my grandchildren they were all geniuses and that has stuck in our family as a bit of a joke but it is not a joke they are very special in God's sight and in mine. God Bless you on your path of serving God.
    God be with you. Mrs. Claire King Prescott, Arizona

  • Larry Fry

    07/08/2023 03:00 PM

    Art and music are essential in schools. So, is physical education. However, all three have been cut a great deal in our country to spend a lot more on academics because our children are becoming dumber and less educated. Thus, our children and young adults are going into adulthood larger and fatter than ever, much less healthy than ever before. I call our current public education the ‘dumbing down of the lazy-fat kid.’ Change is needed for us to survive and the liberals and their way of thinking are not going to accomplish it.
    We are doomed.