Art Classes Are More Important than We Think

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Table of Contents

  • Art Classes Are More Important Than We Think
  • Summary
  • Experiment
  • Research
  • Problems
  • Solutions
  • Conclusion

This paper is a critique of “Art for our Sake: School Arts Classes Matter More than Ever- But Not for the Reasons You Think,” by Ellen Winner and Lois Hetland. The main purpose of this paper is to inform people about the importance of art classes and how they can positively impact a young student’s life, it also examines why art classes are beneficial to the educational system. To have a better understanding of how these elective classes can help, researchers examined several art classes and learned that art classes teach each student a set of central skills such as reflection, self-criticism, and innovation, that is not taught in academic classes. Students are also taught how to analyze their work and the work of their peers. As a result, students are more likely to do better on academic tests and improve their grades. This article is effective because it thoroughly explains the different reasons on why arts classes are just as, if not more, important as academic classes and it explains the positive effects it has on each young student and their education.

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Art Classes Are More Important Than We Think

I am critiquing the article “Art for Our Sake: School Arts Classes Matter More Than Ever- But Not for the Reasons You Think,” Written by Ellen Winner and Lois Hetland to inform others of how important arts classes are to have in the educational system. For the last couple of years, school’s curriculum in the United States has focused more on common core subjects instead of the elective classes such as arts classes. Some see art as just a class with nothing but activities to pass the time, but what they fail to realize is that the creative activities that are given to the young students are the building blocks of child development. In this article, the authors go into detail about how arts classes can positively affect the young students, making this article effective to the readers because convinces them arts classes could help enhance the child’s knowledge.


Art in our culture today is not as appreciated as it used to be, due to the decrease in interest, many people find creative arts classes such as drawing classes, and theatre classes are not as important and are useless to the educational system. Schools all over the country have begun cutting art classes from the academic programs, assuming it will be better for the student’s sake. However, a recent poll found that eighty percent of the American people believed that creative arts classes will enhance academic performance. In addition, studies have also shown that arts programs teach a specific set of skills that are not taught in the academic curriculum. This means if the studies are true, cutting arts classes could lower students’ test scores and their overall grades. Ellen Winner and Lois Hetland, the authors of “Art for our Sake: School Art Classes Matter More than Ever-But Not for the Reasons You Think,” stated that, after visualizing different art classes in different schools, they realized that the students are not only taught the basics of art but also the willingness to learn from their mistakes, which are not taught elsewhere in schools. The students are also taught how to analyze their work and their peers work, as well. According to Winner, arts classes are important to the educational system because it teaches appreciation and self-value. It also teaches the students certain aspects of knowledge that academic classes are unable to teach.


The educational system today shows that it is more focused towards standardized tests rather than elective classes, because they are “less important” and are needless to the curriculum. The author of this article stated, parents and teachers facing cutbacks in arts classes should worry because these classes teach students mental habits and skills that cannot be taught in any academic class. To test the theories of whether art classes positively affect students, Winner and Hetland, the authors, videotaped different classes and visualized the students and teacher’s interactions. After reviewing the tape, and interviewing the students, she noticed specific habits from each student, that no other class would have taught them.


Elliot Eisner, the author of “Does Experience in the Arts Boost Academic Achievement?” also researched on the relationship between arts courses and academic classes by viewing literature books from past dates. Eisner first found that arts courses do strengthen academic performance. In the article, Eisner uses a quote stated by Murfee saying, “students of the arts continue to outperform their non-art peers on the scholastic aptitude test (SAT), according to the college entrance examination board. In 1995, SAT scores for students who studied the arts more than four years were fifty-nine points higher on the verbal and forty-four points higher on the math portion than students with no course work or experience in the arts.” Eisner, the author also studied the effects on students who take creative drama classes and concluded that the classes enhance reading scores compared to the students who did not take creative drama classes. “When a body of work in a particular field of study makes significant and valuable contributions to a wide array of skills, dispositions, or understandings, the value of that field increases” (1998). What the author is portraying is that, although arts classes do not seem to be as important compared to other academic classes, they are actually, in their own way, more valuable and more useful for young students making the need for arts classes increase.


John Swift and John Steers, the authors of, “A Manifesto for Art in Schools,” stated that practicing the art develops the ability to use materials and techniques intelligently, imaginatively, sensuously, and experimentally in order to respond to ideas creatively through personally meaningful, communicable artefacts in school. Later life, or professionally. Swift and Steers both agree art classes should be kept in the academic curriculum and have introduced their solutions to each problem at hand. One problem arts classes face is lack of ambition set by limited education, Swift and Steers proposed that identification of the personal as a subject for art and in the understanding of art. Another issue art classes face is restricted preferences, the authors set-out to solve this issue, broader-based expectations should be designed to reward experiment, challenge, and independent thinking. Swift and Steers agree they should discourage safe “reading between the lines” and place more emphasis on evolution of portfolios and work during the learning process. By simply changing or cutting back arts classes will not resolve the problems identified. The solutions show a connection between the development of students and teachers. Each issue needs to be individually addressed and resolved for arts classes to become a more meaningful and high quality experience for teachers and learners, Swift and Steers states.


For the educational system to maintain the stability of arts classes, the must focus on resolving the issues. Higher teaching standards must be enforced to ensure teachers are confident and are able to embody their students and their classroom. Art teachers need to make sure students have a full understanding of the impacts of art and how it does actually matter outside of the students’ lives at school. To do so, teachers must empower a more critical and creative mindset to assist each student, says the authors. The educational system must also broaden the range of choice and type of study that is currently available. According to the authors, it is most important that the call for better arts classes consists of more decision making, risk taking and more creative opportunity, to improve ways of encountering diversity and innovation.


The article that I critiqued is definitely effective because it states that the cut-back of arts classes in public education is an issue we face today and what may not seem as such a big deal, actually has a big impact on students and their families as well. The article also stated the importance of keeping arts classes in the academic program and how they can positively affect the students. By actually experimenting and seeing firsthand what students are being taught, gave the authors a much better understanding of just how crucial it is to keep these elective classes in our educational curriculum.

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