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Societal Biases Trivialize Arts Education

Photograph by Lena Ostroy-Harp

While technology continues to take over our lives, the art-loving, flip phone using, and book reading millennial finds themselves a complete and utter outcast in a technologically driven world. While we’re busy being fascinated by our cell phones, we forget the feelings evoked by a work of art. Something as simple as a mural on the side of a building, a sculpture in a high school art show, a play,  or a song can spark that joy. But how do students find a love or passion for the arts in a society that tells them that aspiring to be an artist is as dangerous as aspiring to be an astronaut? And how do we prove society wrong if the only music we hear in a day that isn’t from your phone, computer, or other technological device comes from the homeless man on Shattuck Avenue with a sign asking for money? It starts with a shift in perspective of the importance of the arts, advocacy for art programs, and more confidence.

It’s expensive to take piano or art classes outside of school, and is something that many students are too busy to do. Yet it’s one of the few chances we have to fall in love with the arts and all they entail because these opportunities aren’t coming from our high schools. Granted, Berkeley High School (BHS) is an exception in many ways, but it still falls short in the lack of recognition and funding we give our art classes.

Most of all, it’s the culture surrounding them. It’s the “don’t take ceramics, it looks bad, take AP computer science instead” that you hear from students and faculty alike. Students want to go to a great college, make their parents happy, and take that AP class so they can gloat about their 4.2 GPA. It’s not like colleges, parents, or society are helping show the importance of the arts. It’s a vicious cycle that schools are wary to invest funding in fixing, and students are cautious about getting involved in. This isn’t to say that all students have this mindset, but many students have steered away from taking an art class for any other reason than to get their art credit freshman year and be done with it.

If you are one of those people who has a love for art, or just wants to do something different, then advocate for it, take a chance, and I promise you won’t regret it.