We need to justify why kids should spend time drawing and making marks, even though they do this without any prompting at all. Even a kid with nothing but dirt and a stick will make marks.
But, drawing is not math and it's not reading.
Or is it?
If you go out and look around in the InterWebs for articles advocating arts education and touting the benefits of the arts to the growing mind (and by that I mean growing minds of all ages), you get some kind of strange results.
A whole lot of effort has gone into showing that the arts improve math scores, for example.
Now, maybe that is true. And if you find math beautiful, you will most likely find Bach
beautiful. In fact, here is a clip of the Crab Canon by Bach translated upside down and backwards and onto a Mobius strip which is really mathematical and cool.
But the real reason for all this effort is because we've created this hierarchy of subjects, and math and language are at the top. In fact here's Ken Robinson's talk on creativity and schools. He explains this very, very well.
So if you want resources, you want money and time and effort spent toward fostering visual and movement and musical thinking, you've got to hook yourself onto that math and verbal wagon. Right?
Um, maybe not.
See, music is music. It exists precisely because it is not math. Drawing is drawing, which is not reading. It's drawing.
So while I appreciate all the discussion of Multiple Intelligences and the many other multi-faceted approaches to education that incorporate the arts, I have this to say:
The arts are inherently valuable. They are what give us our culture. They are a huge part what we look at when we want to understand an ancient civilization (See: Egypt). They are what we use to comprehend and articulate our place in the world and the universe. They are our highest forms of thought and communication.
They don't need to improve math scores. They are not just for hobbies. They are part of us as people. The need for music and dance and theatre and drawing and all of it are there because they are there, pure and simple.
Yes, all of our various ways of using our brains overlap, all the time. But if you don't nurture all of the various modes of thinking, there's nothing to overlap with. That button doesn't get pushed. That idea doesn't fully form. That story doesn't get told.
So, art is art. Let's now talk about what art does to make us who we are, with or without improvements in test scores.