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    The education system

    I've been thinking about education quite a bit lately, and I think "Social Science" is the closest we have to a forum where this topic is appropriate.

    Of the many aspects of education I've been contemplating, I'll bring one of them here. The art requirement. It is common to both High School and College. It generally includes many different options, such as drawing, sculpting, singing, acting, and if the school is big enough, dance.

    What is the purpose of the art requirement? Is it to appreciate art, or to practice doing art? Is an art appreciation class what is wanted, or to try to get people to practice making art?

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    Mazzie Daius fromderinside's Avatar
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    If you aren't impressed with our spiritual artifacts and our representations of living form then certainly you wouldn't expect art to be taught in many forms corresponding with writing, typing, physical training, mathematics, etc. Art is a normal human behavior of expression just like fluting, drumming walking, eating, and the other stuff I mentioned above. Education is a historically based discipline. Art is something we use many aspects of our capabilities to accomplish consequently it makes sense to comprehensively address it against those capabilities,

    IOW Duh.*

    *sorry about that.

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    Veteran Member James Brown's Avatar
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    I wasn't required to take Art in High School or College.

    “By participating in the arts, our students develop cognitive abilities and forms of intelligence that complement training in other disciplines, and in some cases they discover talents and interests that will shape their careers and principal avocations.”
    – Shirley M. Tilghman (Princeton University President, 2001 – 2013)

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    Where is art a requirement? Usually the requirement is to take one or more "elective" courses (of which art classes may be a part), but I've never heard of there being a specific "art" requirement. The only required course I can think of that might apply is English Literature, but that's more about expanding a student's mind in ways that otherwise would require them to physically travel and experience the things others have written about (as well as improving their reading and interpretation skills, which are practical measures that in turn prepare graduates for necessary real-world applications of those skills).

    That said, I believe "art" should absolutely be a requirement, as there is no better way to stimulate intelligence and encourage self-exploration/self-reflection/self-expression, which are all likewise necessary ingredients for developing young minds and productive citizens.

    Without stimulating a child's creativity, you have no innovation, no disruption, nothing that currently drives our economy. Practical skills are completely useless if all you are producing are automatons that can't think outside of their own boxes. Art is the best (and only) way to encourage that kind of unfettered thinking.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jason Harvestdancer View Post
    I've been thinking about education quite a bit lately, and I think "Social Science" is the closest we have to a forum where this topic is appropriate.

    Of the many aspects of education I've been contemplating, I'll bring one of them here. The art requirement. It is common to both High School and College. It generally includes many different options, such as drawing, sculpting, singing, acting, and if the school is big enough, dance.

    What is the purpose of the art requirement? Is it to appreciate art, or to practice doing art? Is an art appreciation class what is wanted, or to try to get people to practice making art?
    Art programs are not instituted in a universal way, but if they are part of a general program of liberal arts, the idea is that they are skills worth cultivating for their own sake in each individual, as part of a healthy balance of skills and knowledge in many areas and modalities. The purpose is more practical than theoretical, and the emphasis is more likely on performance than appreciation.

    In English-speaking countries, we often point to a brief pamphlet by Francis Bacon called "Of Studies" (1625), as an apt summary and intellectual precursor for the ideas behind a program of liberal arts; I reproduce it in full below:

    "STUDIES serve for delight, for ornament, and for ability. Their chief use for delight, is in privateness and retiring; for ornament, is in discourse; and for ability, is in the judgment, and disposition of business. For expert men can execute, and perhaps judge of particulars, one by one; but the general counsels, and the plots and marshalling of affairs, come best, from those that are learned. To spend too much time in studies is sloth; to use them too much for ornament, is affectation; to make judgment wholly by their rules, is the humor of a scholar.

    They perfect nature, and are perfected by experience: for natural abilities are like natural plants, that need proyning, by study; and studies themselves, do give forth directions too much at large, except they be bounded in by experience. Crafty men contemn studies, simple men admire them, and wise men use them; for they teach not their own use; but that is a wisdom without them, and above them, won by observation. Read not to contradict and confute; nor to believe and take for granted; nor to find talk and discourse; but to weigh and consider. Some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed, and some few to be chewed and digested; that is, some books are to be read only in parts; others to be read, but not curiously; and some few to be read wholly, and with diligence and attention. Some books also may be read by deputy, and extracts made of them by others; but that would be only in the less important arguments, and the meaner sort of books, else distilled books are like common distilled waters, flashy things.

    Reading maketh a full man; conference a ready man; and writing an exact man. And therefore, if a man write little, he had need have a great memory; if he confer little, he had need have a present wit: and if he read little, he had need have much cunning, to seem to know, that he doth not. Histories make men wise; poets witty; the mathematics subtile; natural philosophy deep; moral grave; logic and rhetoric able to contend. Abeunt studia in mores.

    Nay, there is no stond or impediment in the wit, but may be wrought out by fit studies; like as diseases of the body, may have appropriate exercises. Bowling is good for the stone and reins; shooting for the lungs and breast; gentle walking for the stomach; riding for the head; and the like. So if a man’s wit be wandering, let him study the mathematics; for in demonstrations, if his wit be called away never so little, he must begin again. If his wit be not apt to distinguish or find differences, let him study the Schoolmen; for they are cymini sectores. If he be not apt to beat over matters, and to call up one thing to prove and illustrate another, let him study the lawyers’ cases. So every defect of the mind, may have a special receipt."

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    My college and my high school both had an art requirement. There was a list of classes one could choose from. Not all schools have it, yes. It isn't exactly the same thing as an elective.

    For instance, suppose your college required you to take one art class, and you took three because you enjoyed the first one. The other two are clearly just electives. Most schools require it as more of a production based requirement, not an appreciation based requirement - art as opposed to art history. I'm just trying to get a feel for what is best here.

    I have been pondering my own education for many years now, and while some of it made sense why I had to take a particular course, others didn't make as much sense. This is only one of the issues I've been pondering. I agree the arts are valuable, I'm just contemplating the distinction between production and appreciation. So far it seems that production is the preferred course.

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    Mazzie Daius fromderinside's Avatar
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    Seems to me one of the basic functions of primary (k-12) education is to produce a person who can determine relative value of choices such as where to and for what reasons to go to particular college. If one gets lost in the competition aspect of choosing a best university without skill of proper selection one should continue to learn at the most reasonable rates possible.

    It's tough. I know. I chose the best university in my sate and the most difficult discipline when I had not nearly enough tools to succeed. Flunked out, went to jr college having lost motivation wound up in the Navy, then IBM, then college again at a state school then won a fellowship to a leading university in my chosen discipline.

    However I didn't get into the workforce in that line of work until I was 36, way too late for ame fortune or even high income. Still even this 'disaster' route provided a very satisfying 25 years of productive and rewarding endeavor.

    Looking back I see how I should have prepared and decided differently. Just saying avoiding 15 or more 'wasted' years is probably worth re-examining how one goes through early training.

    It turns out that art would probably have been useful for me and that sciences would have been useful to my brother who came to art at an early age.

    Then again it just could be we weren't going to succeed because we weren't ready when choice times came for other reasons than lack of foundation.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jason Harvestdancer View Post
    I have been pondering my own education for many years now, and while some of it made sense why I had to take a particular course, others didn't make as much sense.
    I heard people in my schools say the same thing. "Why do I have to take all these math and science courses??"

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jason Harvestdancer View Post
    I agree the arts are valuable, I'm just contemplating the distinction between production and appreciation. So far it seems that production is the preferred course.
    I see value in both, although I am imagining "appreciation" as being more about gaining knowledge about human beings and even social issues, events, and culture via a focus on art. After all, art has been a major part of human society since we were "human" if not before. I think such a course should be part of the history/social-studies curriculum.

    I do think I had an art requirement in middle school, but not High School or College.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jason Harvestdancer View Post
    My college and my high school both had an art requirement. There was a list of classes one could choose from. Not all schools have it, yes. It isn't exactly the same thing as an elective.

    For instance, suppose your college required you to take one art class, and you took three because you enjoyed the first one. The other two are clearly just electives. Most schools require it as more of a production based requirement, not an appreciation based requirement - art as opposed to art history. I'm just trying to get a feel for what is best here.

    I have been pondering my own education for many years now, and while some of it made sense why I had to take a particular course, others didn't make as much sense. This is only one of the issues I've been pondering. I agree the arts are valuable, I'm just contemplating the distinction between production and appreciation. So far it seems that production is the preferred course.
    No art requirements for either high school or college for me.

    I did have some out-of-field requirements, though, and I have a bit of a disagreement on how you are defining them. There was no specific class that was required, but rather x credit hours from y department. They could be any classes you met the requirements for. You can't define one as a requirement and another as an elective even if you took more than was required.

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