Art students face the pressures of STEM focused education
November 29, 2018
Science. Technology. Engineering. Mathematics. These fields have been pushed on us since we were young. Elementary schoolers take art and music classes once or twice a week, but are drilled in their times tables almost every day. When schools are short on funding, art programs are the first on the chopping block. The emphasis on STEM-related fields in public education has degraded the presence of the arts, such as drawing, painting, theater, photography, music and so many more that are a vital part of our culture.
With the paucity and often absence of arts education in elementary and middle schools, students are bred to believe that the arts are lesser, unnecessary, frivolous. In order to graduate, most high schools require only two semesters of an art class, but six to eight semesters are required for both math and science courses. Every high school should require basic math and science courses, of course, but for a student uninterested in STEM fields, three to four years of a course that doesn’t progress the student’s future is a waste of time.
A heavy load of math and science courses often makes students more appealing on college applications, confirming the seemingly irreversible flaws of today’s education system. College is advertised as a time that students are free to build the future that they desire, but, because primary and secondary education is so focused on STEM, universities follow suit and ascribe less value to the arts. Art classes are rarely required as general education courses while subjects like Calculus and Chemistry are necessary for almost every degree, even those unrelated to STEM fields.
Furthermore, education that doesn’t value art creates a population that doesn’t value art. A student pursuing nursing, engineering, or another STEM-related career automatically earns the respect of those around them, but for an art student, this is no easy task. To be a respected artist, a creative student must work harder than a STEM student to prove themselves equally important, talented and capable of success. Art students are told that there are few careers that support their passions, and, the ones that exist, are too far out of reach for a Midwesterner.
When a creative student announces plans to pursue a career in the arts, the idea is dismissed as a phase. The artist is considered a naive and overly ambitious teenager with a false sense of confidence. Creative students spend the entirety of their lives being told that, within the arts, there is no future, no money and no sustainability. The media and our world preaches individuality and creativity, but, when a person puts these thoughts to action, the world tells them that without a “rational” backup plan, they will have no way of supporting themselves.
This prejudice against artists can be avoided and eliminated altogether with a greater implementation of arts education in public schools, rebuilding appreciation for the arts from the youngest up. Arts students should be granted more freedom to pursue their dreams within their schools—the freedom that STEM students already have. Through our education, the world must be taught that the arts play a vital role in our culture—without art we would be without movies, music, fashion, entertainment and individuality all together.