Arts Education: Chicken Soup for the Brain as Well as the Soul

In his article "Seismic Shifts in the Education Landscape: What Do They Mean for Arts Education and Arts Education Policy?" Professor F. Robert Sabol of Purdue University argues that the skills and critical capacities of creativity, collaboration, problem solving and empathy that are honed through involvement with the arts are essential ones for the economy and society of the 21st century. Nevertheless, arts educators find themselves in the difficult situation of having to justify and advocate for the existence of arts education within American schools in an era in which test scores, particularly in math and English, are the primary tool of evaluation and accountability. If the United States is to maintain a leadership role in global economic and technological development, Sabol suggests that arts education needs to play a more central role in the evolving landscape of primary and secondary education.

The core of the article is a summary of several key educational policy reports of the past several decades. Sabol argues that arts education continues to be valued in the U.S.; but art programs have lost ground in the face of the economic crisis and subsequent funding cuts. There are also significant social challenges, such as maintaining strong parental engagement with the schools and issues of licensure and retention in the face of declining teacher satisfaction with the job.

In addition to those general educational challenges, arts education is highly specialized and contains distinct challenges of its own. Attaining art skills and knowledge can be difficult to assess. Yet, if creativity and critical literacy are necessary skills for the future, new assessment tools for the arts will be required.

Sabol points to a number of policy issues in arts education that deserve attention, including stronger teacher preparation, evaluation, and professional development opportunities in the arts. He also notes the need for new national arts curriculum standards, including the full incorporation of digital technology and the media arts. Ultimately, educational leaders must provide quality arts education in American schools if the United States is to maintain its position as a global leader. The seismic social changes that are reshaping the needs and goals of the education field generally have created important challenges and opportunities for art education in particular.

Sabol, F. Robert. 2013. "Seismic Shifts in the Education Landscape: What Do They Mean for Arts Education and Arts Education Policy?" Arts Education Policy Review 114(1): 33-45. doi:10.1080/10632913.2013.744250.

Topic Tags: