For years, art classes have been at the bottom of the priority list when valued against any STEM class. It is considered more important to learn math and science because that will prepare you for the “real world.” I have a hard time with this sentiment (which is generalized and not directly quoted from anyone FYI).
I remember the art classes that I took in middle school. I took this one class, I forget its exact title, but it focused on woodworking. We built bridges from toothpaste and tape and then measured how much weight they could hold. We cut and sanded our own tic tac toe games out of a block of wood and painted them. We made small boats out of spoons and cardboard and mouse traps and measured how far they would go. We used the big tools that could cut our fingers off, and sanded the wood down until we were eating the dust. But it was fun. I loved that class because I had the opportunity to create something and to test something out, which was something that I made. I was proud of myself because I could handle the job, carefully use the machinery, and accomplish a task given to me. It was a well-needed break from my other classes.
I wouldn’t say this class took away from my other classes. I wouldn’t say it was a waist of time. I say that it was one of my favorite classes in my middle school years. When it was over, I missed it. It gave me a break from the math packets and the science experiments and the long essays. It was a class where I could create. Now, this was a more practical class. I also took short art classes where I had the freedom to just draw or paint or literally do whatever in the class. It was considered to be a break, or a rest, for my brain. It gave me the place to relax and meditate on what I was creating.
I really enjoyed these classes, but they stopped once I went to high school. My education solely focused on the requirements to graduate rather than on the classes I knew I would enjoy. It was fun and I miss it. I want us as teachers to hold the freedom to bring in arts into our classrooms OR to teach art classes for our students to take. Students need a break. Students need to know that they can create without judgment. I want to incorporate some of these methods in my own classroom because I know how I valued it as a student, and would want my students to experience that as well.