Art is a Measure of Society’s Success Nov16

Art is a Measure of Society’s Success...

As an advocate of the arts I often look in to academic studies that champion their cause. Recently I came across a compelling case in Harvard’s Project Zero for valuing art for art’s sake in educational systems, particularly because linking art in the classroom to the success of other subjects is not keeping art in the classrooms during hard times. Rather than tying the value of the arts to other subjects, such as suggesting that an education in music will benefit math skills, the authors of Harvard’s Project Zero claim that we should focus on art’s unique and intrinsic value. Art is necessary for its own contributions as stated by Project Zero’s authors: The arts have been around longer than the sciences; cultures are judged on the basis of their arts; and most cultures and most historical eras have not doubted the importance of studying the arts. … The reason is simple. The arts are a fundamentally important part of culture, and an education without them is an impoverished education leading to an impoverished society. Studying the arts should not have to be justified in terms of anything else. The arts are as important as the sciences: they are time-honored ways of learning, knowing, and expressing. (p. 3) A lack of culture and an impoverished society; a big claim to make for the arts but a claim that is not without merit. In order to see what Project Zero might be referring to, let’s turn back the clock to 1943 when the motivational theory of aspirational psychologist Abraham Maslow first went to print. Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs is a pretty familiar term in the circles of human developmental psychology, but for those of us not well versed in psychology it boils down to this:...