Should the arts credit be required?4 min read

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Below are two stances on the recent addition of an arts requirement. Contributing Editor Mischa Trainor is against the requirement while Reporter Adam Drexler is in favor of it.

Against 

While exploring the arts is important, having an arts requirement causes students to stress about fulfilling the requirement, give up other experiences and therefore appreciate the arts less.

“When we designed the system, we looked at the class that [had] just graduated [2018],” Director of Arts Education Dr. David Solomon said. “Had that system been in place for that class, 80% of the seniors would have fulfilled the arts requirement, so only 20% of the seniors would have had to do work beyond that.”

If most students participate in art experiences already, then there does not need to be a requirement to change the way we think about the arts.

When an activity becomes about fulfilling a requirement instead of having fun and exploring my interests, I end up appreciating the experience less.

Fulfilling the arts credits requirement

often prevents me from taking other classes and participating in activities that appeal more to me. My weekends are filled up with other things that I like to do, and fitting in time to go to museums takes time away for me to pursue my real interests.

The requirement also adds stress to the course registration process as students have other requirements to fulfill such as sports, community service requirements and Judaic credits. Students are limited to two elective periods per semester, so finding time in the schedule for an arts class that would potentially be of interest can be challenging for many.

Some people might find an art class more valuable or interesting than another language or science classes, and they still have the option to take many art classes. But that doesn’t mean everyone else should be forced to; we should be allowed to keep our options open.

Art is important, but so are other things. Participating in art activities does have many benefits, but why should I have to prioritize going to a museum over going to a BBYO program or a baseball game?

In Favor

If science classes were optional, would CESJDS be doing its job of providing students with a well-rounded education? Any high school that would allow this sort of choice could not be considered an academically strong school, so why should it be any different with the arts?

The arts are a key component in a student’s education. While often overlooked, they provide students with important and useful life skills that are not necessarily emphasized in the core classes.

“[The arts] teach students to solve problems creatively and how to go about solving challenging problems and think outside the box,” Director of Arts Education Dr. David Solomon said.

A 2002 report by the Arts Education Partnership revealed that students exposed to music, drama and dance tend to be more proficient in reading, writing and math than students with no exposure to the arts.

Although the arts are not taught as core courses such as English or math, students have the opportunity to learn how to better connect with peers in art classes.

While in math two students should reach the same answer, in the arts two students can have two completely different, creative and unique answers — highlighting the differences in their personalities and helping them better understand each other. The mural painted near the cafeteria and collaboration in musical performances are just a couple of examples of social growth experiences in the arts at JDS.

Additionally, the arts allow students to express themselves as individuals. Individual paintings, sculptures and musical solos are different examples of student expression in the arts. JDS advertises the opportunities it provides for students to express themselves individually, and the arts are the most valuable place for students to do so.

While the arts teach us important skills, they also teach us about beauty, truth and our fundamental human nature. We value the lessons of math and history, and we show it by requiring all students to take these classes.

If students are not exposed to the arts in school, it is likely that they will never develop a taste for them. As a society, we will lose the arts altogether if arts classes aren’t required. By having required arts credits, we show that we also value art and the lessons that it teaches.

This story was featured in Volume 37, Issue 1 print edition of The Lion’s Tale, published on Aug. 27, 2019.

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