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Art is Not an Elective

Dexterity is one of the most important physical skills children will ever learn. According to L. E. Berk, "When motor skills work as a system, separate abilities blend, each cooperating with others to produce more effective ways of exploring and controlling the environment." (Berk, 2013, p. 148). Why does our culture stop valuing this skill of creative movement or investing in all cognitive learning types once children are midway through elementary school? Why is art considered an elective when it is so vital, so elemental, to our job sector? Why do we say as a nation that we value and appreciate the aesthetics of American made homegrown products? Yet, art is treated as an elective instead of a right of every child's educational experience. How are we to create the next generation of innovators if they're not given the tools, they need to lead our country into the four-front of the newest industrial revolution?

Art is such a powerful tool. And If I am going to get on my soapbox and preach, It's best that I put my money where my mouth is opening.
 At my Cavalli Corner exhibit, I will be starting an art fund for my neighbours and all residents in Cassio Metro.  The show will be up from the 2nd of July (opening night begins at 6 pm if you wish to see me.) and will continue for the rest of the month of July.

We must change our minds as a nation. Educate the general public about the art industry and its lucrative jobs. Finally, we have a duty place a larger emphasis on creative works in order to advance our nation into a DaVinci educational state in which subjects are treated as integral parts of the educational body instead of placing a higher value on parts (Example of general stigmatism- Math and reading are more valuable than drawing or performance arts).

In PreK and kindergarten, elementary school children focus on handwriting, sharing, and learning their ABCs and 123s. "Many preschool programmes emphasize the use of scissors because it develops the dexterity children will need for writing." (Khan) As children progress into the early grade school years, schools focus more on reading and math. However, in late elementary to middle school, their knowledge of the arts starts to dwindle, or may even become nonexistent by the second grade.

"Schools are cutting back on teaching science, social studies, and art to become proficient in math and reading tests." (Kumeh).
"Findings indicated that elementary art teachers are provided very modest budgets for achieving goals; have little planning time; perceive themselves to be undervalued in the school curriculum, and are losing contact hours with students." (Mims, Lankford).

These attitudes and problems provide little incentive for those in the art industry to become teachers; sometimes, individuals burn out due to a lack of support from their communities. Many in the field become disenchanted because their professional subject is designated as a frivolous afterthought elective, unworthy of funding. How, I ask, is our system to improve if our educators are not incentivized to educate their pupils and the general public about the art sector, with its available lucrative jobs or valuable innovations on which our economy depends?

Art education started to be implemented in the American education system in 1884 with the Instruction in Drawing Applied to Industrial and Fine Arts Act completed by Isaac Edwards Clarke. Its goal was to close the gap between affluent upper-class students in America and European students and supersede over the European industrial art market. Historically, since the beginning of American education, Americans have neglected the arts, particularly for the general masses. Mandatory school education for all classes started in 1930 (Gelbrich). From 1900 until the late 1940s, the art education gap between Europe and the United States lessened among affluent classes and started to open more opportunities for the lower classes. Places in America, like New York, Chicago and Los Angeles, became known for their efforts in the arts industry.

Try this book there are are few known to the art world artists, but mostly unknown to the general public artists. I recommend checking out artists in here like Kara Walker.

  Watch the video below. She is an artist focused on the depravation, entitlement and what consequences that has on our society.

However, attitudes towards the arts industry started to change in the American education system near the end of the Civil Rights Movement. In 1964, when Lyndon B Johnson declared war on poverty, reading and math became more important than the arts in these times of deprivation. Since then, there has been a stigma among the American public around the arts as an extra, with the belief that it is not worth the trouble of educating the lower sectors about this vital industry. It insinuates the prejudiced American stereotype that the lower classes would never be able to understand or appreciate art aesthetics, which the upper levels of high culture enjoyed.

This distinction has demolished and hindered many generations of potential markets and profitable American artistic income due to funding deficiency and negligent art education in the poor, colored, and minority race and religious demographics.

To this day, children from a young age think that the arts are only for fun and hobbies. Given the systemic prejudiced attitude and lack of education, most parents, who themselves never received a well-rounded art educational experience, discourage their children from the art industry for "safer" or "more intelligent" careers, such as medicine or politics.

Below is a picture of me painting in Bristol, at the famously made bridge made between the world wars. I feel this war, and the lockets of love before me seem to say a lot about holding on to what matters most, a creative mind. 

Most parents don't know about all the available jobs in the artistic industry.

When parents or students advertise their dislike for the arts as unimportant, frivolous fun, I often ask questions such as:

Need to take a shit? Who helped you 'go' by designing your toilet or the machine that made your toilet paper?

Who sketched the building you're in right now?

Who planned the pattern design of your shirt on your back?

Who designed your car?

Who created the laptop, phone or other devices you are using?

I declare to the disbeliever:

"These are all jobs that require art education. To be an architect, designer or even a contract carpenter, one must learn how to draw and sculpt accurately. Art is vital because of its ability to communicate with others. How can a politician, lawyer or a speaker learn how to connect with an audience without the opportunities to take classes in theatre and learn about diction, presence or how to become a great orator? See a billboard? Someone composed that. That was a job. "

They will usually respond with:

"Oh, well, I did not know that." or "I never thought of it like that before!"

Artists can also be chemists who make the chroma of pigments available for working artists. One could go into art restoration. Or, say, become an x-ray tech for a gallery or auction house to prove the legitimacy of a painting, or even rediscover how an artist of the old masters made their masterpieces. 

 But people don't talk about jobs like this; not much is known to the general public besides pretty pictures and faces doing things to entertain the public and possibly improve the function of commercial items. 

There is money to be made, but we as a culture do not know much about the art industry. Therefore, many communities discourage individuals from entering such pursuits.

For example, the performing arts have quite a lot of educational purposes in the realms of almost every learning style. It is especially beneficial to learners who are more able to retain information using spatial, interpersonal relationships and gestural kinetic communication. After the war on poverty, education systems cut classes such as theatre, dance, gymnastics and collaborative art projects. They replaced them with a recess and “cheaper” activities such as sports teams in the late 60s and early 70s, which now is slowly being replaced by federal, state and local standardized testing.

The implementation of standardized testing has also discouraged the arts from blooming under the No Child Left Behind Act of 2002, which “requires states to test fourth- and eighth graders in math and reading every two years.” (KUMEH). Since the enactment of standardized testing, "Not only have teachers and classes been eliminated, but supplies and instruments for after-school activities like band or theatre productions are also gone." (Chira).

Subsequently, the arts were withdrawn from many educational systems due to a lack of funding. Cutting or underfunding art programs will mostly produce inferior quality and subpar performance. No wonder many schools are closing or cutting the arts if they are inadequately funded! I feel that schools neglect the arts because they forget that crafts can generate lots of income. In a New York Times article by Susan Chira in 1993, the Director of Arts Education for the American Council on the Arts, Carol Sterling, said, "We must demonstrate that when children do arts, they are doing critical thinking and problem-solving and learning about civilization. Unless we categorize this in terms people understand, arts will always be considered a frill." (Chira).

Children are not introduced to sustainable jobs in the arts until they are in college. People who enter the arts professions are culturally shunned with questions such as:
"Yeah, but how will you survive? You can't make any money that way."

In fact, Chira states that, "75 per cent of Americans in a 1989 National Endowment for the Arts report said they had never had any art appreciation classes, and 43 per cent had never had art lessons. Yet if arts education has always been spotty, experts say things are worse now." (Chira).

Figure sketch from earlier this summer, and possible painting idea. What do you think? Should I take the next step? "Take Me Away" 2020

I fear our continual withdrawal from the arts in the general education system, is sending our children the message that play is not an essential part of the human learning experience. Instead, schools are giving children the impression that the only way to learn or work is by sitting in a desk quietly and correctly. The idea that one cannot study by moving or performing is ultimately damning to pupils with learning styles other than the ones required to retain information by sitting in a classroom. Such students may feel stupid. They may be less interested in learning, which may affect their overall quality of life. I perceive cookie-cutter learning environments are encouraging the legitimacy of self-execration, especially in students who learn differently from the pre-prescribed generally accepted method of retaining information. Their lack of experimentation and joy of complaining about how "bad" they are at topics they have never tried is increased when risk-taking classes like the arts are underfunded or unavailable in a student's general education.

As humans, we all have different kinds of learning styles: visual (spatial), aural (auditory-musical), verbal (linguistic), physical (kinesthetic), logical (mathematical), social (interpersonal), and solitary (intrapersonal). Why do we insist that solitary, logical, and verbal learning styles are the most important?

"Too often, children whose abilities lie in the visual, spatial and kinesthetic realms believe themselves to be less intelligent than their peers, especially in a school culture with so much standardized testing." (Khan).

I fear that the arts are becoming more endangered, especially in poor, underfunded, urban communities. Due to a lack of education in the arts, many children with different learning abilities and styles will lack the ability to excel in the job sector due to the educaisons systyem failing to teach them in way that is most effective for their learning styles. Thus, this affects our country's involvement in the manufacturing process and commercial market and our understanding of the arts' vitality to the American and world economies. A highly active arts sector is normally a good indicator up a thriving civil society and a booming economy. In fact, activity in the arts has a unique finger on the pulse of our citizens ability to rise up into the upper classes because the arts are patronnes more frequently in nations that are more affluent than those nations or economies which do not value or invest in and the arts or art education. Hence the art industry is a great wait determine how well our economy is doing and wither or not it is in an economic upturn or downturn.

Check out my former blog post about patrons and how it connects to our economy.

The solution is to teach our teachers and community the arts' value. We should teach our children to draw, read music, and perform for an audience. If we do these small things, the educational sector will value the arts more, which will generate a more creative, communicative, and connected job market; better products; and more sustainable and economically profitable society.

I think that when we teach our children how to write their ABCs and 123s, we should also teach them the basics of drawing accurately and reading musical notes. Art should not be a once-a-week class or an optional elective but part of our children's general education foundation.

The arts can become an interictal process when educating children to read or write. Words are not the only way to communicate. Transcendent, physical rhythm and visual imagery are just as impactful in the communication process. I think a child should be taught how to read gestures and audience reactions and be aware of their spatial presence just like they are taught how to read and write with letters.

There is no reason science cannot integrate the performing arts, or that writing, or reading should comprise only letters and numbers. Why not teach realistic visual perspective and musical notes and math simultaneously? Simple, everyday classroom materials like pencils, hands, and desks can become drums—unifying music classes and science experiments into one experience with the benefit of teaching two subjects together. It's easy to integrate these ideas into already valued materials. It is just different.

Teachers should be required to take mid-to high-level college drawing, acting, and music classes if they want to be PreK, elementary, middle, or high school teachers. The résumé of those who wish to be teachers should include a visual portfolio and an audition that demonstrates their skills in the performing arts such as musical rhythm, sculpting skills, and acting.

If we teach the value of design, and about the available jobs in the visual arts, such as set designers, videographers, art restorationists, or curators, stigmas and prejudices that surround the fine arts could become a thing of the past.

I believe that if we teach music notes and one-point perspective when we introduce letters and numbers, overall literacy will rise. Also, I think that with an immersed arts education, students may be more comfortable with taking risks and experimenting without the feelings that high-anxiety children of the standardized testing world now experience.

Art is not an elective but a vital communication skill – a tool of innovators to create new markets and enhance commerce. Art education is essential to our economy. We need artists to improve our society's businesses and encourage our American national pastime of pulling our nation up by our bootstraps. Let's protect our children's rights to learn in a way that fits them best. The arts can do that! Let's vote for legislation that helps future generations create the products of tomorrow. Art is not an elective but a right of every child's educational experience.

Come see me on our grand opening day! If you ask I will tug on your ear like I have just done your eyeballs- telling you what I really think and feel about arts and art education. And if you can, support artists like me who advocate for more active roll in the arts.

Concierge Office

Lindon Avenue


WD18 7AG

All the best,

JCML Fine Art


Ps. I believe this is true of most of the world, but I know more about the American education system then other places like the ones I live- Here in England. This essay was part of an assignment for a class, that is in the states. So there is that too.

I have not forgotten you, my Uk audanicne. What do you think? Do you feel like there is more options here in the uk in regards to art education? Or do you feel that there is a lot written here that rings too true, and close to home?

Are you reading this and are from a different country then the States or the UK? What do you think is good and bad about your art's general education system?


Works Cited and Reference Materials Used for Arguments.

Australia, State Government of Victoria. “Fine Motor.” Department of Education and Training Victoria, 13 Mar. 2015,

Arts, National Endowment for the. “Toward Civilization: A Report on Arts Education.” Americans for the Arts, National Endowment for the Arts, 15 May 2019,

Berk, L. E. (2013). Child Development (9th Edition). Upper Saddle River, New Jersey: Pearson Education.

Caitlin Heidbrink, design by Brian Moen, and Trevor Kupfer. “ARTS & THE ECONOMY:Keeping the Art Pulse Beating.” Volume One Magazine - Eau Claire Culture and Entertainment, May 2009,

Cebr, Centre for Economics and Business Research. “Contribution of the Arts and Culture Industry to the UK Economy.” Arts Council England, Arts Council England, Apr. 2019,

Chira, Susan. “As Schools Trim Budgets, The Arts Lose Their Place.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 3 Feb. 1993,

Crossick, Geoffrey, and Patrycja Kaszynska. “Understanding the Value of Arts & Culture.” The AHRC Cultural Value Project, 2014,

Davis, H. “The Benefits of Dance for Young Children - Stagecoach.” Stagecoach Theatre Arts, Ann P. Kahn, 12 Feb. 2014,

Dissanayake, Ellen. Art as a Human Behavior: Toward an Ethological View of Art. The Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism, vol. 38, no. 4, 1980, p. 397. Wiley-Blackwell, DOI:10.2307/430321.

Gelbrich, Judy. “Section II - American Education Part 4 Compulsory Education.” AMERICAN EDUCATION, 1999,

Hechinger, Fred M. “SCHOOLS AND THE WAR ON POVERTY.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 23 Apr. 1985,

Khan, Ata Ullah Ullah, et al. “IMPACT OF ART ON CHILD DEVELOPMENT AND STRUGGLING LEARNERS.” CiteSeerX, Abhinav Publication, 5 May 2015,

Online ISSN-2277-1182

Kumeh, Titania. “Education: Standardized Tests, Explained.” Mother Jones, 25 Mar. 2011,

Mims, Sandra Kay. “Time, Money, and the New Art Education: A Nationwide Investigation.” Taylor & Francis, 22 Dec. 2015,

Marasco, Emily, and Laleh Behjat Behjat. “Integrating Creativity into Elementary Electrical Engineering Education Using CDIO and Project-Based Learning.” Integrating Creativity into Elementary Electrical Engineering Education Using CDIO and Project-Based Learning - IEEE Conference Publication, IEEE, 2 June 2013,

A. H. Al-Timemy, G. Bugmann, J. Escudero and N. Outram, "Classification of Finger Movements for the Dexterous Hand Prosthesis Control with Surface Electromyography," in IEEE Journal of Biomedical and Health Informatics, vol. 17, no. 3, pp. 608-618, May 2013, doi: 10.1109/JBHI.2013.2249590.

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