Arts education belongs in every student’s curriculum — and not just because the arts can improve skills in other content areas.

As an instrumental music teacher, I am used to advocating that the arts are essential to all students even though they may not be classified as a core subject. Over the years, I’ve used research about how the arts increase math and reading comprehension to defend their existence in the public school curriculum. I’ve pointed out the social skills that band, orchestra and choir ensembles build. I’ve even made the case that for some students, a music, art, dance or drama class might be the only thing bringing them to school each day.

All of these points are true, but they fall short of explaining why the arts truly belong in every student’s K-12 curriculum. Instead, they rationalize the arts through a utilitarian lens that ties their existence to the way they can improve skills and understanding in other content areas. After 20 years teaching music, what I’ve learned is that the arts are essential because humans are inherently creative beings and must be given opportunities to develop their creativity in order to fully understand themselves and participate in a pluralistic society.

Recently, I was humbled and honored to be named the 2022-23 Teacher of the Year in my county as well as one of seven finalists for the state of Maryland. This award gave me the chance to reflect on the purpose of the arts in education and provided a platform for me to explain to those who will listen why the arts are a core subject based on their own merits. The arts are core to education and core to life because the essence of being human is creativity, not productivity. And one of the problems with American public education today is that it is hyperfocused on graduating productive students, not creative ones.

Read the full article about arts education by Jonathan Kurtz at EdSurge.