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Should art & music be mandatory in schools?

Some schools have long required art and music courses, but are they for everyone?

YES

Art and music should not be afterthoughts in the school curriculum. Both should be an integral and mandatory part of every child's learning experience. The arts tie us to other cultures and can be enjoyed by everyone--from babies to the elderly.

How dreary and empty our lives would be without the beauty of paintings, photographs, and sculptures surrounding us, and the melodic tones of music filling our ears.

In addition, several studies have shown that exposing young people to art and music in school fosters academic achievement in core subjects, such as math, reading, and foreign languages. In fact, if you look at ancient Greek writings on music, you'll see elaborate drawings that resemble something from a geometry textbook.

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When studying music, students learn to distinguish patterns, such as the beats in a measure, as they are taught to do in math. Similarly, the study of music also helps autistic and developmentally disabled students to grasp mathematical concepts and solve problems.

In addition to instilling discipline and enhancing social and communications skills, the study of art and music encourages collaboration--perhaps the most important skill that today's students will need in the 21st-century workplace.

--JOYCE GERBER

TEACHER, EMERSON SCHOOL, ANN ARBOR, MICHIGAN

NO

It comes down to one thing--making sure kids enjoy coming to school. When students enjoy their classes, they're more engaged and more passionate. As a result, they excel.

That's why I think all kids should be able to choose whether they want to take art or music classes. When you allow them to choose subjects that truly interest them, only good things come.

Kids who take classes that they want to take are better students. They learn more--and enjoy themselves more.

From the time I was a kid, I knew that I wanted to be a writer. But in elementary school, I was forced to study the recorder, an instrument I hated.

In art class in sixth grade, I had to draw a huge tree on 11-by 14-inch paper. I had no idea how to do what was asked of me and spent most of the class staring into space, dreading that I was failing at this task and that I would get a failing grade as a result.

I was lucky that my middle school allowed me to take creative writing instead of art. My writing prospered. Ultimately, the electives I took during those years helped me to pursue my dreams. Isn't that what school is all about?

I'm now an English major in college. I've had several stories published and look forward to publishing more. And I hope never to play a musical instrument again!

--JULIAN ADORNEY

SOPHOMORE, UNIVERSITY OF COLORADO, BOULDER

What Do You Think?

Should art and music be mandatory school subjects? VOTE ONLINE AT SCHOLASTIC.COM/JS

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Title Annotation:NEWS DEBATE
Publication:Junior Scholastic
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Mar 14, 2011
Words:481
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