Writing the Right Notes: Redefining the Common Core

Arnav Srivastava ‘19
EE Senior Opinions Editor

Eric Sorge ‘19
EE Staff Writer

The Common Core: a group of goals and guidelines for public education established by the government that outlines what has been deemed “important” for the success of all American students in college and beyond. The list calls for proficiency in english, social studies, science, and mathematics. Evidently, it has been determined that these subjects are important enough to a child’s education and success that they be made mandatory in public schools. However, today’s children require more than mere academic success to succeed as independent human beings, rather, the future requires skilled, thoughtful, and unique workers.

While academics are piled on students day after day, many students are found to be underprepared for the working world without the creativity that is found alongside successful workers. The Common Core does not achieve its own goal: the academic subjects it mandates for the success of students are not enough. This dilemma is due to the lack of widespread art education in the nation’s public school system. The arts, by fostering vital skills ranging from creativity to decision making and even independence help create students who are ready for self-driven success. Therefore, art programs must be promoted in America’s education system and be made a mandatory piece of all high school students’ education to better align with Common Core ideals of preparing children for the real world.

Take music, for example. According to the United States Census Bureau, only around 29% of children from ages 6 to 17 years old pursue musical arts in their schedule. However, participation in a musical program has valuable benefits to students. Music is proven to enhance intelligence and cultivate smarter students. Research studies from University of Toronto and John Hopkins finds that musical training is correlated with an increased Intelligence Quotient and significantly greater neural activity than those without musical experience. This is further reflected in comparatively higher standardized test scores, with generally 22 percent higher English and 20 percent higher Math scores on standardized tests.

Meanwhile, the Dana Foundation has compiled credible research supporting that executive functions such as drawing have been proven to significantly improve teamwork skills and reasoning skills – crucial qualities that are not constructed in the common classroom environment yet just as important for future workforce preparation. At the same time, students who routinely pursued their art were shown to have further developed portions of their brain responsible for fine motor skills and procedural memory, capabilities that pay off in the classroom yet are not deemed necessary for success by the Common Core. Without a doubt, the evident benefits of a mandatory art program show the limitless possibilities of an art-incorporated curriculum, for art program participation has a direct correlation with improved academic performance.

Meanwhile, beyond the statistical evidence highlighting the academic success aided by the arts, art helps create happier and healthier students, supplied with skills they need in the real world. For one thing, music has enlightening effects of maintaining emotionally healthy students, as musicians are found to be less stressed out, less aggressive, and less likely to have disciplinary issues compared to their non-musician counterparts. As academically and socially successful junior Harrison Gilberti explains, “being a part of choir has helped me make a plethora of friends! Choir has also helped me discover my love for music and participating in choir lets me use my musical skills during the school day.”

With the addition of art-based program to his schedule, Harrison not only has become a happier student, but has discovered a passion which he wishes to pursue as a career. Additionally accomplished student Danny Parillo, recently featured in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, states, “Band has really allowed me to explore new passions and enhance my time management skills”. His participation in the music program and emersion in the arts has allowed him to develop interests that he will carry with himself throughout his life. Additionally, the time management that music has helped him acquire will most certainly help in future endeavors such as college and a career. Furthermore, the arts give students motivation to succeed as well as self reliance to creatively achieve abstract tasks. Such skills are often lacking in the curriculums of the Common Core classes, yet are necessary tools in today’s working world. As the need for capable workers rises and businesses evolve and seek unique new ideas, the nation’s current education system begins to fail, contributing to the over 6,500,000 unemployed working-age Americans due to the lack of skills required for high income professions. As a result, there is a need for the exploration of different worlds of thought: ones that can only be unlocked by breaking away from the academics and supporting the arts.

As ceramics teacher Mr. Youngberg states, “art provides a break for the kids from all of the classroom academics and it’s geared towards self direction, autonomy, and freedom. Students come here to do something that they love to do, and rather than receiving just simple grades for their work, students gain a sense of satisfaction with their success”.

Essentially, the arts supply students with the intrinsic motivation and vitals skills that will help them succeed beyond high school. Therefore, the arts, if made a part of the Common Core, will help public education prepare its students for the future.

It is most definitely time that the Common Core takes on a broader approach to success: we must incorporate art-based programs into our school schedule to cultivate academically and emotionally healthier students that are better geared towards making a positive impact in the future workforce and an influential member of society.

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