Are Art Classes Beneficial?

Liberty offers a large array of art classes with each course differing from each other in difficulty, workload, and skills.

Two+Liberty+seniors+working+on+their+ceramics+projects+in+ceramics+class.+

Katie Tippet

Two Liberty seniors working on their ceramics projects in ceramics class.

Art is one of the most common forms of self expression. Practicing art can have many benefits; Involvement in arts is associated with increased abilities in math and reading, as well as helping with cognitive abilities, critical thinking, and verbal skills. Art is also associated with improved motivation, concentration, confidence, and teamwork by creating foundations to form social and community relationships. Arts help develop skills like resilience, grit, a growth mindset, and help develop problem-solving skills. Art isn’t just beneficial for adults though. Art helps children with the development of motor skills, language skills, social skills, decision-making, risk-taking, and inventiveness. Arts experiences boost critical thinking, teaching children to take the time to be more careful and thorough in how they observe the world. A report by Americans for the Arts states that young people who regularly participate in the arts are four times more likely to be recognized for academic achievement, to participate in a math or science fair, or to win an award for writing an essay or poem.

Over the past few decades, art education has been integrated into schools all over the world. By immersing students in art education, they are drawn into a complex practice that combines many subject matters like math, history, language, and science while still being uniquely tied to culture. A study of Missouri public schools in 2010 found that greater arts education led to fewer disciplinary infractions and higher attendance, graduation rates, and test scores. In 2007 in the U.S., 47 states had arts-education mandates and forty had arts requirements for high school graduation. Liberty is not one of these schools because there is no requirement for graduation, but the art department is offering 14 different types of art classes for the 2022-2023 school year.

Jenny Saylor, art, is one of the two art teachers at Liberty. She’s been at Liberty since it first opened in 2017. She shared why she thinks that all students should take an art class.

“We have so many different art classes to choose from. From 3D [art] to the tech stuff I feel like for sure there’s an art class out there for everyone like there’s some creative outlet that you’re going to enjoy. I also think there’s a ton of skills to be gained from art classes… complex thinking skills, figuring out different materials and how to put them together, there’s a lot to be gained from taking an art class or just creative outlets in general.”

Saylor also shared whether she thought art classes should be a requirement or not.

“This conversation has been brought up many times over the years. I actually really like what our [Liberty’s] honors diploma requires. To get an honors diploma at Liberty they are required to take an art class and I like that as a solution. I know it’s hard for highschool students because they have so many requirements they already have to do so to just pile another requirement on them isn’t good but I do think everyone should at least try to take an art class.”

Maggie Yocius, art, is the other half of the art department. She and Saylor split up the amount of classes they teach pretty evenly.

It’s very important for students to have a creative outlet and a place to get their hands messy no matter what activity they are doing.”

— Maggie Yocius

“It’s very important for students to have a creative outlet and a place to get their hands messy no matter what activity they are doing. I think a lot of students here have vigorous academic schedules so coming in here [the art room] is a nice balance and a place where they can do some creative problem solving and express themselves,” she said.

Yocius’ opinion on whether art classes should be required differed from Saylors.

“I absolutely think that art classes should be required here [for graduation]. One of the reasons is because a lot of university programs, whether it be engineering, medical field, or the sciences, are having their students take some studio art classes again to help balance out the academic schedules of students. The hands-on experience and creative problem solving outlet is also good along with having a place where you’re open and free to do that.”

Taking an art class can be majorly beneficial to still developing students. Liberty offers so many different options for art classes that every student can find something that they enjoy doing, whether that be strictly in school or something they pursue in their outside lives.