John Adams, one of our founding fathers and deep thinkers, once wrote:
“I must study politics and war that my sons may have liberty to study mathematics and philosophy. My sons ought to study mathematics and philosophy, geography, natural history, naval architecture, navigation, commerce and agriculture, in order to give their children a right to study painting, poetry, music, architecture, statuary, tapestry and porcelain.”
Today, many parents see the need to study, so their children can get ahead in the world, so they can make a good living. Certainly, we all want that for our children, but maybe we should want even more for them. We should want them to be able to study all those things, which bring beauty and meaning to our lives: art, music, drama, dance, film and animation.
The world has begun to value these more than it had in the past. Here in Texas the arts generate millions of dollars in revenue for the state ($343.7 million in tax revenue in 2017). They generate in excess of $5.5 billion in the state’s economy — yes billion with a “B.” That’s a lot of monetary impact for the arts to have.
Studying the arts broadens students’ perspectives and teaches them other ways of thinking. Students who complete more art classes have a 15 percent higher passing rate on standardized tests. In Texas, the creative sector employs one of every 15 Texans. Almost 800,000 innovation workers who rely on creativity have an average wage of $80,300, which is compared to the average of $44,000 for non-creative industries. Not only are the arts mind-broadening — they’re financially rewarding too.
There are fields in the arts open today that didn’t even exist when I was a youngster — game design, animation and music. Graphics arts done with computers and 3D design for jewelry on computers. 3D printing creating things beyond my imagining as a young man. Podcasts, YouTube, social media — all places where the arts shine. All places where our students may find gainful employment and artistic outlets. Make sure your students have a chance to study the arts.