By: Nupur Agrawal
In today’s society, it is undisputable that emphasis in education has leaned toward the more factual; science, mathematics and language are seen as vital components in a child’s schooling, especially in the South Asian community. My contention however is that the arts “drama, dance, music and visual arts” are just as important and we should treat it with the same status.
Canada’s education system was founded on the idea of academic ability. Upon closer analysis, this is due to the fact that there were no public systems of education before the 19th century. When modern schooling was introduced, it was created to meet the needs of industrialism. Therefore, this ‘hierarchy’ is rooted on the idea that the most practical subjects for work are at the most important.
For instance, you were most likely steered away from things you liked at school when you were a kid on the basis that you would never get a job doing so. Your parents may have said something like “don’t do music, you’re not going to be a musician or don’t do art, you won’t be an artist”. With the profound changes taking place within the younger generation however, this opinion is long outdated.
To begin with, science can give us practical facts and try to formulate theories with those facts, but it’s the artists who turn them into narratives with moral, emotional and spiritual meaning. Artists tell stories; they essentially help us make sense of our world by broadening our experiences and understanding. The arts enable us to imagine the unimaginable and help us understand the past, the present, and the future.
The interesting thing is when you travel around the world you realize that most education systems have the same hierarchy of subjects. For instance if a hypothetical pyramid were imagined, mathematics and languages would be at the top, followed by humanities and then at the bottom are the fine arts. The sad thing is, during difficult economic times, arts programs are the first to be cut. In all honesty, there isn’t an education system in the world that teaches music every day to children the same way we teach them mathematics. Why is that? I believe that both math and music are of equal importance. In fact, it is scientifically proven that listening and playing music can stimulate both sides of our brain and all of our senses at once.
While I understand the practical aspects of math and science in everyday life, why is it necessary for every child to know how to solve for ‘x’ or how to find limits when the Fine Arts teaches you to think outside the box? Not only do the Fine Arts teach one discipline and creativity, but also carve responsibility and historical knowledge within its students.
To conclude, I agree that Mathematics and Science are a vital part of our curriculum but I also think that the Fine Arts are of equal importance, as it instills life skills that will carry with you through the rest of your life.
“Life beats you down and crushes your soul and art reminds you that you have one” Stella Adler.