For many decades an arts education was often looked down upon in career-minded western societies. Seen as 'lesser,' or at worst, a waste of time, recent years have seen more research and appreciation into how vital a little creativity is in our lives. Human beings aren't robots, after all. We're complex creatures with more to offer than simply working away and paying taxes. A common misconception is that enjoying the arts is something to do for fun or merely to pass the time. Such attitudes aren't only condescending but also ignore the vast benefits the arts can have on mental health for adults and the incredible formative benefits it can have on children.
By engaging the creative sides of their brains, kids are often learning new ways to approach challenges, evaluate work, and express themselves. In short, it teaches them more about the human experience than a math test ever could. Still don't believe us? Then check out 21 beautiful benefits of an arts education below...
Grasping at crayons, chalks, and paints as a child isn't just fun; it also helps develop essential motor skills. These controlled movements will later help with writing, buttons, and even cooking, among many other things.
When applying for higher education, having interests and hobbies outside of purely academic endeavors has always been a bonus. It shows dedication and a desire to broaden one's horizons. Additionally, for art students from low-income backgrounds, there's a dramatic boost in their chances of pursuing and earning a college degree.
Participating in the arts allows children to have time for free expression and gives them the opportunity to focus on something engaging and unstressful. These meditative and rewarding qualities help a child become happier and better able to concentrate.
Art tasks are often given as group projects for younger children and are usually one of the first times kids have to learn how to create and communicate with others. This shared goal and exchanging of ideas help teach children how to articulate their thoughts better.
Trying to figure out how we're feeling can be difficult at the best of times, let alone when we're children! Luckily the arts provide a way for children to explore their feelings and express themselves in ways words often can't.
There's often not a 'wrong' or 'right' way of approaching artistic tasks. Giving children the freedom to approach an assignment from more than one angle increases their ability to think critically. These lessons can help them massively in later life when a challenge arises.
An obvious one, but creativity is a great resource to have. After all, the creative and driven people in this world change things. Teaching children to think differently and create independently helps create a curious and confident person.
Not often will a child excitedly share an English paper or Chemistry question, but something artistic? There's a reason why millions of refrigerators proudly display painted pictures on their doors. A child's creative output can create a great conversation piece with parents, a window into how they see the world that can strengthen your bond.
Telling a child they have to complete a task in certain perimeters in a specific time frame can be limiting - a last-minute essay assignment, for instance. Giving them the freedom to create something entirely from their imagination ignites a sense of motivation, their hard work and perseverance paying off in front of them.
Be it a visual, musical, or written task, the sense of independence a creative endeavor provides teaches children to observe what they are doing with extra care. Before long, they'll soon learn the tricks of the trade, be it which brush to use or how to hold their instrument correctly.
Communication can be tough for most people, but for those with an arts education, it's taught as a fundamental and couldn't be more paramount to creativity and understanding. Whether you're discussing ideas, verbalizing your thought process, or delegating in your artistic process, communication always comes first.
In general, those interested in drama or storytelling will soon be creating their own scenarios in their heads and trying to get them down on paper (or a computer, most likely nowadays!). Expressing yourself with the written word with a bit of flair and skill is no bad thing for later life.
People make mistakes every single day, some big, some small. An arts education teaches students to learn from mistakes, use them in their work, and never forget the importance of failure while looking for perfection.
An arts education teaches students to embrace their flaws and ignite their passions. Confidence is critical, and building it takes time. Younger children are taught to try new things, push themselves beyond what they think is possible, and never give up.
Perhaps one of the most significant parts of arts education is the appreciation of culture, both locally and globally. From traditional dance styles, or passed-down traditions of crafting, to ancient musical practices and acting techniques from around the world, culture in art is inseparable.
The more you learn, the more you want to keep learning; an arts education heavily promotes that. Some studies have shown that those in the arts have, on average, higher IQs than those who aren't, especially in the musical field.
There's more to an arts education than simply learning; those who show interest in art's many fields often find a sense of relaxation within them. Music, acting, and drawing all have detailed and effective therapy techniques attached to them; there's no wondering why people find them so relaxing.
An arts education teaches accountability from a very young age. As an actor, for example, you are trusted to learn lines and play a part in a show that's bigger than just you. Mistakes happen, but an arts education teaches young people to own their wrongdoings and move forward as a team.
Criticism can come in many forms, and sometimes we can be negatively affected by them. An arts education shows people that criticism is the only route to growth, and no matter how much effort you put in, something can always be improved. You can paint a picture a thousand times, but there will forever be something you can adjust; colors, perspectives, meaning.
Risk-taking is an important part of growing as a human; pushing outside your comfort zone is something that inspires us to learn and opens our minds to new experiences. Standard education doesn't usually allow students to take risks, but the arts do. New ideas can be explored in a safe space, and risks can turn into symphonies.
Throughout this list, we've spoken about the many amazing aspects of an arts education, but above everything, the best part about the arts is the incredible differences it makes on your well-being. Having a healthy, open mind allows arts students to be the best versions of themselves in all aspects of life!
Casey Wise is a British journalist, creative copywriter, and music creator with a deep passion for language, travel, and technology. Based in Barcelona, his work extends from local start-ups and newspapers to university radio and the British NHS.