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Julia Grotenhuis

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How important are the arts?

Elaborating on this broad question, how important do you say the arts are in comparison to math, science, history, etc? Would you say music is more important than math and art more important than science? That's just an example. Would you say that the arts aren't as important as those other things? Why or why not?

Just curious to get others' opinions on this because it seems like an interesting conversation topic. I'e heard some people say that the arts are just pleasantries, but kind of important nonetheless. I've heard some say that the arts are THE most important things out there. So what do you say?

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    Feb 16 2012: Why separate the two extremes? Rather than looking at the arts verses math and science I'd like to imagine one might mix the two in order to build upon one or the other to better promote a goal or achievement he or she desires to accomplish. Coming from a scholastic world class drum line that participated in competition across the United States, I have seen how music can be very technical and contain vast amounts of math and science integrated into a performance in order to better execute a creative expression through various dynamics and technicalities. In turn, as a student who had creative teachers through high school, I have also observed ways in which the arts better promoted lessons of math and science that left an engrained imprint in the minds of young adults that responded better to the quirks of creativity rather than the popular method of constantly hammering in lessons through repetition.

    Basically what I'm trying to say is that in my opinion, the importance of one or the other depends on the situation. The arts can not cure cancer; however, science and math can not express the gravity of such a disease.

    People are very culturally driven and respond to the arts well. We are informed through journalism, music, propaganda, and so on of different aspects regarding that of math and science. Just like a cycle, math and science also aid the ways in which the arts can be expressed.

    As an ultimatum to your question, I believe that in order of importance in regards to the arts verses math and science, neither has a greater significance in the overall scheme of things as it is to my observation that both use one another in order to better serve their purpose.
    • Feb 16 2012: Good point. I completely agree. I do not think math or science or history, etc any more important than music. It is good to see that you think the same way. You hit it right on: the arts cannot cure cancer, but neither science nor math can express the gravity of such a disease.

      I raised the question to see what other people would say. There are some people who would say music is just something to relax to, which always makes me feel sad.
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    Mar 12 2012: If we didn't value the arts, they wouldn't exist.
    I wonder if the youtube, tweeting, facebook status generation will have more or less interest.
    Are we shaping our brains to be less focused, flitting between fluff.
    Will the arts flourish, and adapt.
    I hope so.
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    Mar 4 2012: To me importance of arts is not exactly measurable (just like the importance of maths, physics, biology, etc.). Each of them are clearly important, but everybody has his own scale for „measuring“ them.
    I would not compare arts to other domains, because each one is different from the other. Maybe instead of the question „How important are the arts?“ we should rather ask „Why are the arts important?“
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    Feb 17 2012: I don't think the question revolves around what is most or least important. The arts are an essential component of human expression that unifies, comforts, inspires, and energizes. Consider survival in the backwoods of Appalachia. Music, passed down orally, has sustained people through otherwise debilitating hard times. Think about much closer to nature we are drawn by Monet's rendered impressions of water lillies. How dank and dark our lives would be without the arts. Ranking them on a scale of importance with respect to other avenues of the human endeavor is beside the point.
    • Feb 17 2012: I think you ended up essentially saying that one should not be ranked over the other because they are equally important, to which I nod my head in agreement.
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    Feb 17 2012: Hi Julia..on my school years I was behind the class specially maths but I sure was very strong on Arts ..sadly Art wasn´t very apreciated at the school sistem I attend.
    I think children should be encurage at what they are good at ..it gives a kick of confidence ..I learned first handed ..after feeling confortable with my artistic skills i was able to learn far more easily other subjects...after all Maths are only an exercise to the brain..
    I think Art has much more power and identity.
    • Feb 17 2012: I am inclined to agree with you, although I am biased. I love the arts too, although I feel society doesn't appreciate the arts as much as it should. I want to say that the arts are more important since they are so dear to me, but I do know people who love math just as I love music. Or any of the arts, at that.
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    Feb 17 2012: Thinking about the question in terms of the role of the arts in public schools, here's one way of looking a it: the specific skills a student learns in an art or music class aren't necessarily any more or less useful in the "real" world than those learned in a science or math class.

    Of course, the accuracy of that statement depends a lot upon the field one ends up in. But I'm speaking in a more generalized, non-vocational sense. If you're not entering a related field where those specific skills are needed, what's the point of learning anything about the arts, or science, or math? The answer I think lies in the fact that all three teach the same thing, really. They (can) teach the rewards of persistence, observation, problem-solving, patience, reflection, of the connection between effort and outcome/success. The different subject areas simply appeal to different personalities and different interests, but in the end the lessons students take away and use throughout their life are, in a way, very similar in all three.

    When I was in high school I took Trig and Calculus, both of which I found incredibly difficult, not to mention completely useless after graduation. But from those classes I learned to think logically, to find the right angle from which to attack a problem and, if that failed, to try again, to not give up just because something was challenging. Likewise, in my art class I learned similar lessons: to slow down and observe my surroundings more closely, to apply knowledge and skills in order to devise a solution to a problem, to plan out how I would accomplish my goal, to think through the decisions I was making along the way. In both I learned to be patient and to persist, of the rewards that follow hard work and effort. Both are important to offer as we work with students who possess different right/left brain orientations, learning styles, and interests. Schools need to offer a range of subjects that engage them so they can learn those lessons.
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    Feb 16 2012: Sciences and math etc.. are thoughts and theories put into facts by careful observation and experimentation of what 'is',wheras the arts are thoughts and theories mixed with feelings put in our souls by self observation and experimentation on the enigmatic ways of expression
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    Feb 16 2012: There are of course many differences between any individuals within a culture or between individuals from differing cultures. We usually expect that to be true, even obvious. It is also true and less obvious that some individuals in differing cultures are more similar to each other than to members of their own culture. This variety within cultures points to the answer to the question of importance of any one aspect of culture. To some members of any culture, some aspects of culture are of more importance than some others. There need not be any supreme aspect of culture. Over the millennium, humans have retained those aspects of culture that have nourished enough members to be passed on to the the culture in general, to be appreciated by those members who can do so, either by nature or nurture.
    One of the problems being faced by America at the moment is the result of accommodating and nourishing aspects of culture which favor the sciences, such as higher mathematics and chemistry. This has led to a lack of appreciation of the other aspects of culture.
    If we can learn anything from history, it is that human beings are multifaceted creatures with diverse interests and talents. It is unwise to promote any one or a few of those parts of culture that we, as human beings, have developed over the centuries. Future shock is a reality, and it is worsened as a result of our nearsightedness concerning what a culture is, and what it needs to survive.
    Of course a culture needs sustainable production, education, transportation systems and business models, as well and the ability to defend itself against disease and foreign attacks. The sciences help us there. However to reach our goal to become the most successful human beings that we can become, we must provide political systems that are not under the control of the wealthy and powerful. We must provide for a broad range of interests, talents, and artistic and spiritual needs as well.
    We are as strong as the weakest part.
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    Feb 16 2012: There has to be a balance. The arts are just as important as the sciences. We need only to look at the physiology and neurology of our own brains to see why:

    http://www.ted.com/talks/lang/en/iain_mcgilchrist_the_divided_brain.html
  • Feb 15 2012: I've always thought about this one...

    I think there's some attractive element of boundlessness when talking about the arts. In a world of rules and right or wrong answers in maths or science, I feel it's relaxing to be able to push the boundaries in whatever way you want: nothing in music or art is wrong, everything is a new step into the unknown.

    The arts also seem more accessible to me. It's comparatively easy to engage in a play or concert than to take pleasure in an equation or theory, and in general people can get more out of them. Whats the point in living without pleasure?

    However, the arts are slightly limited in this respect. An opera isn't going to cure cancer. Although we may be more culturally developed had we indulged solely in the arts, it simply can't be applied to our everyday lives.

    For me, the arts are less of a priority, but there's nothing better to relax with than an instrument or your favourite CD!
    • Feb 15 2012: True, opera isn't going to cure cancer. I do feel, however, that the arts and things such as science and math are of equal importance. I, for one, wouldn't say there is no "wrong" music or art piece, etc. There is some "bad" music out there, and I'm not just talking personal opinion. There's a wrong way to play a piece of music, and there's a wrong way to drawing a portrait - and I'm not talking "style" or "interpretation" either.

      The arts are a reflection of things, certain aspects, of this world, and draws us to see those things.

      Science and math are just another way to explore that. In this way I feel the arts are necessary.
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    Feb 15 2012: The sciences and mathematics are a way of explaining the world but it is only through art that someone can express their creativity