The Instigator
SolaGratia
Pro (for)
Winning
39 Points
The Contender
British_Guy
Con (against)
Losing
25 Points

Tourney Round 2, Debate No. 12: Art and/or Music are Important in Grade School

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 4/13/2008 Category: Arts
Updated: 9 years ago Status: Voting Period
Viewed: 5,260 times Debate No: 3617
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (7)
Votes (16)

 

SolaGratia

Pro

Quite simply, art and music are integral parts to a well-rounded education system. Since our public schools seek to provide just this, art and music are essential to give students a preparation for any career they might choose. Art in itself is a career, and artistic skills are used in many others, such as drafting and architecture. Music is also a career in itself.

It is unconscionable that music or art should be removed from our school system. Removing them would leave a gaping hole for students who wish to enter those fields, and probably cause a drop in then number of artists or musicians.

Some people have argued that art and music are fringe skills, and that they shouldn't be taught because (A) most students won't be going into art or music fields, (B) art and music are unnecessary and should be extracurricular anyway, and (C) they are not "vital" skills like 'readin', writin', and 'rithmetic.'

Although it is true that most students will not choose art or music as a career, they should still be offered in public schools. Why? First of all, because to not do so would result, as I said before, in a lack of art- and music-trained individuals. Second, because art and musical skills are useful in other fields; third because they encourage right-brain development.

Development of the brain in a child should dwell equally on the right and left sides of the brain. Although teaching right-brained ideas is not always compatible with the institutionalized nature of the school system, art and music classes are ways we can do this. (http://www.funderstanding.com...)

Most people would agree that art and music are secondary skills to mathematics, reading, writing, languages, social studies, and history. This may be the case but it is still impossible to have a well-rounded education without the arts or music. Also, most careers today need writing and reading more than, say, algebra. Does that mean we should drop algebra to free up more funds for teaching writing? Or course not! Neither should we drop music and the arts.
British_Guy

Con

What we must determine in this debate is whether or not music and art classes are important at the grade-school (k-5) level. I would first like to draw attention to the word 'important.' According to the American Heritage Dictionary, 'Important' means "of much or great significance or consequence." (I got this definition from Dictionary.com) I would also like to add that in the context on this resolution, an "important" class in an elementary school is a class that is of educational value, and of value to the student.

Now, I turn to the question - are art and music classes important at the grade school level? I have three main arguments. First, only a small percentage of jobs in America are held by professional artists and musicians, hardly a "significant" number. Second, the State educational system does not require proficiency in art or science, and third, art is better learned not in a class of its own, but in integration with other classes.

My first point: Only a small percentage of jobs in America are held by professional artists and musicians. Elementary training only gives a disproportionate weight to these arts. Let's take a look at the numbers, shall we?

Number of artists employed in the United States = 218,000
Number of musicians, singers, and related workers employed in the United States = 264,000
Source: Department of Labor

Number of Americans employed in the United States = 142,000,000
Source: EconBrowser.com

Once we do a few calculations, we find that this is only 3.4% of the American workforce. We must remember that the primary purpose of the educational system is to prepare youth for the workforce. The ability of any course to prepare a student for the world of work is truly the best way to determine whether a course is "important" or "significant."

My second point is that State Educational Standards do not require art or music. Though there are state standards in education in history, geography, math, and science, there are none for either music or art. The state does not require ANY proficiency at all in either art or science. The lack of standards for schools in both music and art speaks volumes about how "much consequence" it has to education. Feel free to check this lack of standards out for yourself at http://www.education-world.com... Neither the state of South Dakota nor the state of Wisconsin requires any proficiency in art or music from the ages k-4.

Thirdly, right-brained children are better taught not in an art class, but with the use of right-brained teaching methods. Our children can express themselves creatively and with a purpose in classes like science and math. Children can work creatively in these classes, which can help to foster the right-brain in a child's education. It is not necessary to actually have an art class to be able to work creatively. Many schools and teachers are working harder than ever to integrate styles of learning that appeal to every type of learner and both sides of the brain.

In fact, in the article my opponent mentions, Bernice McCarthy says that we should work to integrate right-brained activities. She says, "teachers should use instruction techniques that connect with both sides of the brain. They can increase their classroom's right-brain learning activities by incorporating more patterning, metaphors, analogies, role playing, visuals, and movement into their reading, calculation, and analytical activities."

Please note that NOWHERE in the article does she suggest increasing participation in art or music will help right-brained students to learn. Instead, she urges that we add more right-brained learning methods to our reading, science, and mathematics curriculum.

For these three reasons - that art-related jobs are a tiny minority in the workforce, that State Standards do not require art or music proficiency, and that right-brained children can be just as reachable with creative teaching methods as their peers are by conventional methods, I must strongly disagree that music and/or art are important in grade school.
Debate Round No. 1
SolaGratia

Pro

First, a small quibble. Grade school refers to more than just K-5. In fact, grades up through 8th are numbered. I understand your confusion, but I think you're getting "grade" school mixed up with "elementary" school, which is K-5.

If I'm reading correctly, your three arguments are, (1) Art- and music-dependent jobs make up only a small portion of the job market, (2) the State education system does not require art or musical ability, and (3) art and music are better taught not alone but in integration with other subjects.

I believe I have already addressed the argument you make first. I have already conceded that art and music related jobs ARE a small portion of the job market. Several times, in fact. However, I fail to see why that means they should not be taught in grade school. The mission of the school system, as I'm sure you know, is to educate a student for every field he is capable of going into. A ten-year-old does not know with certainty what he wants to do in life, and that's why we teach a wide variety of subjects throughout the course of a K-high school education. This is why there are shop classes in high school: to prepare students for jobs they may or may not get in the construction industry or something like it. The majority of these students won't go on into these industries, yet we still have shop classes. Why? Because the students who DO need to be prepared, and because shop skills are handy for everyone to have. Notice the parallel here? Art and music skills are handy to have in life, even though most people won't go into art or music. Unlike shop classes, however, art and music are skills that can be almost infinitely fine-tuned, and, most importantly, they require an early start.

Saying that art and music should not be taught in grade school is like saying mathematics shouldn't be taught in high school: 99% of the necessary math skills to do 99% of the jobs in the world are taught in grade school, which makes Algebra and Geometry seem unnecessary. However, we still teach them, and for the same reasons I expressed above.

Art and music may make up only a small portion of the job market, but it's larger than the "mathematics" teachers job market, which I presume is basically math teachers and professors, and accountants. However, we still teach Mathematics in school. Art and music, therefore, being different but not unimportant skills, should be taught in school.

Art and music ability are not mandated by the state because they are skills which are hard to measure. It's hard to imagine a art- or music-based variant of the SAT test, for example. You see what I'm driving at? It's not because these skills are not thought important, it's because they are hard to measure. In fact, I think it's safe to say that if the school systems thought art and music were unimportant in grade school, and thus making this a strong argument for you, they would not teach it! In fact, most every elementary school offers art education at least, and probably music as well. So, a lack of state standards for art and music is not actually relevant.

In your third argument, you appear to equate art with creative, right-brain-centric, learning. This is not the case. In fact, creative thinking and art are both right-brain activities, but they are not the same thing. I reject your assumption that children can learn what they are now learning in art classes from "creative" teaching and learning methods in other subjects. To accept your premise, right-brain-stimulation would have to be the only motive for art education. However, art builds up skills that are neither right or left brained.

The Right brain-left brain issue is not actually part of our debate, but I hold that right-brained teaching methods are distracting to left-brained children and vice versa, and I agree with you wholeheartedly that separate methods should exist. This, however, has very little bearing on the debate at hand. It is possible to teach art in a right-brained way, and to teach mathematics in a left-brained way, and so to treat the issue as simply one of method is irrational.

The website I cited was merely meant to show the importance of right brain education, and in actual fact, the right-brain "controls artistic abilities." (http://toys.about.com...)

In conclusion, art and music are skills which, like mathematics, have limited direct application in finding a job or choosing a career, but which are extremely beneficial in the long run. (Musical students consistently test higher on IQ tests than non-musical students.)

Music and art have been and continue to be taught in grade school. My opponent has thus far not provided any compelling reasons why it should not be.
British_Guy

Con

First of all, I would like to point out that my definition of grade school is accurate. Dictionary.com provides the following definition: "A school for the first four to eight years of a child's formal education, often including kindergarten." So you see, we are both right. And though I think there is a significant argument for grade school being equated with elementary school in conventional usage, I will concede that grade school can mean the first eight years of education.

In the preceding argument, my opponent made several arguments. They are, as best I can tell, as follows:

1. Art and music classes are just as essential to a child's education as mathematics.
2. Just because a class is not mandated doesn't mean it isn't important.
3. Art is not to be equated with right-brained thinking. Children cannot learn in other classes what they learn in art classes.

Before I go any further, I would like to make a major point of clarification which is vitally important in this debate. My opponent has said several times that "we should not remove art and music from schools." But this is entirely beside the point. Look to the resolution. "Art and/or music ARE IMPORTANT in grade school." I do not have to necessarily support removing music or art from the school system. I must merely prove that art and/or music are not "of much or great significance or consequence."

And now, on to the debate. In my opponent's first argument, he says that though art and music only make up a small portion of the job market, they are still important. He says that the mission of the educational system is to prepare a student for every possible career. And with this I agree. But I must add one significant detail. The school must do this in a proportionate manner. It does not make sense for a school to emphasize art and music when they are not nearly as employable a skill as mathematics. That's right - I just said that mathematics is an employable skill. In fact, it is difficult to get a career - even a blue collar career - without a sufficient understanding of mathematics. Take a look for yourself.

Requirements for iron workers:
Recommended high school courses include Algebra, Geometry and Physics.

Requirements for electricians:
Recommended high school courses include Algebra, Geometry, Trigonometry and Physics.

Requirements for sheet metal workers:
Algebra, Geometry, Trigonometry and technical reading

Requirements for draftsmen:
Recommended high school courses include Geometry and Trigonometry.

Sources: American Diploma Project, 2002; The Associated General Contractors of America (AGC) http://www.agc.org....

You see, 99% of jobs in America DO require more than an elementary level of mathematics education. Even skills like metal working and drafting require high school courses like Algebra and Geometry, especially if one wants a decent wage.

However, one requirement you WON'T see on an iron-working application form is some sort of training in arts or music. All the evidence points to the fact that training in mathematics is far more important, significant, and consequential than art or music.

Which leads me to the point I made about art and music not being required by State Standards. My opponent said that the reason they are not required is because it would be difficult to test proficiency in these areas. But this is not the case. State standards do not require a certain sufficiency on a specific Standardized test, but require the passing of a high school course with a curriculum that meets certain standards. It would be easy for a state to mandate that every student take and pass one or two semesters of art or music. States mandate a certain amount of coursework in science, mathematics, and communication skills. But neither South Dakota nor Wisconsin has mandated any coursework in art or music. The reason is that art and music are simply not necessary for employment.

In fact, in many nations, instrumental and choral music is not integrated into schools at all. It is something that is done completely extracurricularly. My good friend Masa, a foreign exchange student from Japan, plays the violin extremely well, but he was simply shocked by the amount of curricular music in our school system. Can anyone argue that Japanese students are more dumb than Americans because of their lack of curricular music? No. In a 2007 New York Times article, an international test found that Japanese students consistently test much better than American students in high achieving states like Massachusetts and North Dakota. http://www.nytimes.com... This directly refutes what my opponent said at the end of his first round: "it is still impossible to have a well-rounded education without the arts or music." An educational system without curricular music can and does work well - whereas an educational system without math wouldn't.

And as important as my previous three points are, (that art is insignificant compared to skills like mathematics and science, that state standards do not require art or music, and that education without curricular music can work) I believe that it is this next point which is the most important in the debate. My argument is that right-brained learning is best served not through art or music, but through right-brained teaching techniques.

And no, I do not equate "art" with "right-brained teaching methods." I say merely that those students whose right-brains are being reached with art can be more effectively reached with right-brained teaching methods in other classes. My opponent says that students cannot learn what they learn in art classes in other subjects. Well, let's take a look:

What is it exactly that an art class teaches us?

1. Art class promotes self-expression.
(You make a self-portrait that describes your personality.)
2. Art class teaches problem-solving.
(You learn how to mix colors and apply them to the canvas in a pleasant fashion.)
3. Art class gives us self-confidence by allowing us to express ourselves.
(You try, you make mistakes, you try again, and ultimately triumph.)

I am not saying that these are not admirable lessons, but we must ask ourselves, "Is there any other way to learn these things?" The answer is that yes, there are.

1. We can express ourselves through a Science project building an exploding wire-mesh volcano.

2. The Scientific Method teaches us how to creatively solve problems and find answers to our questions, like what gives bubbles their shape. (Mathematicians can be some of the most creative people. Think Einstein and Relativity.)

3. Creating a creative video presentation about Edgar Allan Poe in English class and presenting it to the class can give students self-confidence of expression.

This goes back to the very first round of this debate, when my opponent said, "Although teaching right-brained ideas is not always compatible with the institutionalized nature of the school system, art and music classes are ways we can do this."

But you see, right-brained teaching methods can be used in EVERY subject, not in just art or music classes.

All three of the activities I named above allow us to express ourselves and learn using the right side of our brains, yet all three of these activities were done without the benefit of an art or music class. But did you notice something else? In these three activities, in addition to learning the three main things art teaches us, we learned three other things. We learned how volcanoes work, what quadratic equations control bubble shape, and about how nearly everyone Edgar Allan Poe ever knew died of tuberculosis.

It is clear that art and music classes are not important, significant, or consequential in grade school.
Debate Round No. 2
SolaGratia

Pro

I have not said that art and musical education is as important as mathematics. Undoubtedly, math is a more useful skill. However, that does not mean that all classes that are not reading, writing, and arithmetic should be removed from the grade-school syllabus.

Before I begin, I'd like to clear up a few things:

Also, it should be noted that a job may require skills it does not need. For example, physics and maybe even Algebra make sense for an electrician, but geometry? No. I think what they're looking for more than individual skills is a well-rounded, high-school education.

I was not trying to diss mathematics or suggest it should be removed from the syllabus, either, and it seems to me that my opponent wasted too much time on that particular tangent.

Okay, now to business.

I made a fourth argument, which my opponent seems to have ignored. Music skills have been proven to raise IQ levels. (http://www.apa.org...) This is something that should not be ignored. IQ is a general marker of success, and if music boosts that, then it should be a priority.

I talked to my girlfriend, who is quite an excellent pianist and has Japanese musician friends. She stressed again that musical skills have a direct correlation with IQ, and that American public funding of music makes it easier for low-income parents with gifted children to realize their potential.

Also, it should be noted that it is a fallacy to see that Japanese schools have less musical education than ours do, and that theirs test higher. Japan speaks a different language than we do. Does that mean they're all stupid? Of course not. You see? A similar fallacy. You just can't connect the two without any other data. For example, there is far more discipline, less vacation, and stricter rules in Japanese schools than in American ones. Could that be a factor?

You make a strong case against teaching art and music in grade school. However, as far as I know, every public school in the nation still does. Why is this? Obviously, they see something in it that you do not. They see that art and music are valuable skills, even if you aren't going into an art or music related career. They see that these skills raise IQ, and give students a creative outlet.

Let's face it: making a papier-mache volcano from instructions is not the same experience as doing what my fourth grade art teacher did: put on Beethoven's fifth symphony and told us to draw what the music related to in our heads.

The fact is, art and music are merely more esoteric ways of achieving the same goal as reading, writing, and arithmetic: the forming of a well-rounded individual student. Music and art classes should be taught in grade school because they are best taught in grade school; in some ways, it's the period students learn best. And musical skills especially must usually be started early. Mozart, for example, started composing small pieces at the tender age of five. (http://en.wikipedia.org...)

Art and music are important in grade school and an essential part of meritocracy, the great equalizer: parents who are too poor to pay for their children's music lessons can, through the taxpayer-supported school system, still give them a good musical education.

Art and music are important in grade school.

Thanks for the debate, British Guy.
British_Guy

Con

Throughout this debate, I have repeatedly stressed how music and art are simply not necessary in grade school education. And I wish to end what has been a spirited and excellent debate with the following four points.

1. Art and music do not prepare a person for the workforce, which is the goal of the educational system.
2. Music has not been proven to raise children's IQ's.
3. Curricular music and art will not help those who are gifted - the Renoirs and Beethovens of our age.
4. Art and music achieve exactly the same thing as reading, writing, and arithmetic, but without actually learning the reading, writing, and arithmetic part.

My first point is that art and music are not needed by the workforce. For the 97% of the workforce that doesn't go into art or music, it will not be a requirement. Please do not let my opponent belittle this point. Physics, Geometry, and Algebra are all required of those entering the workforce. Art is not. My opponent is right. Employers are looking for a good, well-rounded high school education. A well-rounded education that does not in any way have to include art or music, according to state standards.

My opponent continually says that we should not remove art or music from school syllabi, but he fails to realize that these courses are not ON the school syllabi established by the state.

My next point deals with an argument that my opponent hinged much of his final round on, though he included it only as an afterthought to his conclusion in his second round. My opponent says that music raises children's IQ. I disagree.

Now, hear me out. I know that it's practically common knowledge that music increases IQ. "Mozart makes you smart," after all, and we play Bach concertos for our babies all the time. But let us look at these studies that my opponent points to.

The study operates on a survey. The surveyed people indicate whether or not they play a musical instrument, and for how long, and then they take an IQ test. Many people have looked at the results, noted that, on average, the more musical people have higher scores, and made the argument that more music makes a person more intelligent.

After all, what else could it be? Well, read the explanation that the authors of the study cited think cause it. "Schellenberg isn't sure why music lessons are associated with higher IQ and stronger academic performance, but he has several theories: Children with higher IQs have more cognitive ability to handle the mental challenges of music lessons and school, so music lessons probably exaggerate that advantage. School itself boosts IQ, so the school-like features of music lessons such as learning to read music might also lead to improved intellectual functioning, Schellenberg speculates."

So what is it that makes students in music classes more intelligent? Schellenberg doesn't hypothesize that music is what makes them more intelligent. He says that it is the school-like setting of music courses which boosts IQ. And if a music class will boost IQ, how much more will another course (like science or math) boost it?

You see, IQ isn't raised by more music classes - it's just that people who are, on average, more intelligent, take more music courses and stick with the music courses they take.

I'm willing to bet if we took another survey, students who had more science or math would also have an even more marked difference in IQ's than that caused by an increase in art education. But where could we find students like that? Hmm...

Oh, I don't know. Maybe Japan?

And if, as my opponent claims, it is IQ that we should be attempting to raise, then aren't we shooting ourselves in the feet when we teach classes that don't raise IQ as much as a class like math or science? Something to think about.

One of the assumptions my opponent makes is that music and art classes will greatly benefit parents with truly gifted children. But do you honestly think that Renoir is worse off because he didn't have an in-school doodling time? Or that Mozart would have been so much better if he had only played the kazoo in grade school? The fact is, most of the great artists and musicians of the world didn't learn their talents in grade school. Musical prodigies are born with an innate sense of music - they don't get it from early teaching, but from within themselves. The great artists of the Renaissance and the Classical period of art didn't learn their techniques from their fourth-grade teachers, but through apprenticeships to the grandmasters of the time.

Those who truly want to learn music or art, those who are truly driven by it, will get their education, with or without formal instruction or rich parents. Jimi Hendrix was self-taught, using a one-stringed guitar that his father found for him in a dumpster. Do you think that learning five or six chords in eighth grade (as I was required to do) would have made him a better musician?

Third, there is something with which I wholeheartedly agree with my opponent on. In the last round, he wrote, "art and music are merely more esoteric ways of achieving the same goal as reading, writing, and arithmetic." And though he was doubtless just trying to stress the importance of art and music, I urge you to look at what I have said throughout this debate. The skills and tools we learn in art class can be learned in our other classes. And in these other classes, we can learn much more than just how to touch a crayon to a piece of paper, but in addition, we learn about history, science, language, and math.

School curriculum should not be divided into right-brained art classes, and left-brained math or science classes. By doing so, we actually handicap our creative minds by hindering their ability to attain the skills they will need in order to be successful in life. The skills that are actually required and needed; the skills that are (I think I've probably said this at least twenty times now) significant, consequential, and important.

Instead, we should integrate both right- and left-brained teaching methods into our traditional core subjects.

My opponent is right. We do not learn the same things from creating a papier-m�ch� volcano as we do when drawing while listening to Beethoven. You see, in the first example, we learned how a volcano worked. In the second, we developed our Crayola stick-figure-dragon-drawing abilities.

I can draw a mean Trogdor. But in the meantime, cast your vote for Con. Because art and music classes just aren't important in grade school.

Once again, I thank my opponent for this excellent round.
Debate Round No. 3
7 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 7 records.
Posted by Darth_Grievous_42 9 years ago
Darth_Grievous_42
I've given my final judgment, and found British_Guy to be the winner. However, that hardly matters, as the other two judges have found SolaGratia to be the victor. Therefore, the debate as a whole goes to Pro. Congratulations.

http://www.facebook.com...
Posted by British_Guy 9 years ago
British_Guy
Yes, you are right, whyugottabelikedat32, people who take music classes do have higher IQs. But according to the Schellenberg study which my opponent cites, music classes don't CAUSE higher IQ, people with higher IQ take more music classes.

However, I respect your decision and I thank you for reading through the debate!
Posted by whyugottabelikedat32 9 years ago
whyugottabelikedat32
Also, interesting debate indeed. I enjoyed reading it.
Posted by whyugottabelikedat32 9 years ago
whyugottabelikedat32
It is proven the advantages of art and music on extending brain power and increasing the I.Q. of those who study in such even if just a little, its better than none. Indeed the scientific proof is there British Guy, but it is not yet extensively studied. But on top of that, it creates discipline, because as an artist/graphic designer in training, I have noticed that the more people who draw and play music do in fact do better in school, if not in grades than at least in discipline which leads to better grades in a round-about way, which is why I voted for the affirmative side (SolaGratia)
Posted by British_Guy 9 years ago
British_Guy
I will notify the group as soon as I get access to a computer that can access Facebook. Should be tonight sometime.
Posted by SolaGratia 9 years ago
SolaGratia
LM: I did think of that, but I doubted that was the spirit of the debate and let it rest.

British Guy: According to the FB group, it's your responsibility to notify the group that our debate is concluded, as CON.

"Rule #4: The web address of each debate must be posted by CON in the discussion board named "Debate rounds and decision" (on facebook) as SOON as the debate is finished. The post must include the web address, the judge, and the topic."

I assume you're already on top of it. I'm just worried I missed the debates I was supposed to judge :/
Posted by Logical-Master 9 years ago
Logical-Master
Technically, art could be equated to both to writing. ;)
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Vote Placed by stropheum 9 years ago
stropheum
SolaGratiaBritish_GuyTied
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Vote Placed by British_Guy 9 years ago
British_Guy
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