by Madi Baldwin, Contributing Writer

According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, art is defined as the expression or application of human creative skill and imagination. All too often we forget that art can be applied to other parts of our lives than just to areas such as theatre, painting, and sculpting – to name a few. But such areas are a great way to learn to shape and mold the way that we use our creativity. The arts play a major role in the way our society is shaped and the way it functions, but even so, there is a constant debate over whether arts programs in schools are really necessary to keep.

Typical core classes taught in schools include subjects like math, science, english, and history. While these are all separate subjects, each one works together like individual pieces of a puzzle that come together to form a finished picture. But in this scenario, there’s a piece missing. These core subjects are incredibly important as they educate us in the way that the world functions but schools are still failing to teach their students about how to navigate life and how to work with it. In his 2007 Commencement Address at Stanford University, Dana Gioia, chairman for the National Endowment of the Arts, said “Art is an irreplaceable way of understanding and expressing the world. There are some truths about life that can be expressed only as stories, or songs, or images. Art delights, instructs, consoles. It educates our emotions.” Instead of being taught independence and responsibility, students are allowed to drift through school without practicing any creative skill or imagination and are missing out on understanding the world. The arts help prepare students to enter the “real world” by teaching students to understand responsibility, work as team, develop intentional relationships, practice patience, professionalism and countless other things you won’t find in a classroom.

“On a level of pure principle, it makes so much to sense to have [the arts] as a part of someone’s curriculum because it helps them develop the creativity that God gave us,” said Keith Barker, chair of the Asbury University art department. “It’s imagination that allows us to be innovative and to think outside the box. So, for us to ignore that seems counterproductive. It forces people into a social norm instead of freeing them.”

Even people like Steve Jobs were able to recognize the important role that the arts play in the world today. In 2010, while releasing the new iPad, Jobs said, “It’s in Apple’s DNA that technology alone is not enough. It is technology married with the liberal arts, married with the humanities that yields the results that make our hearts sing.” Math and science (and other core subjects) are incredibly important and the discoveries that we’ve made in them are changing the world. But it’s the arts that enable us to take those discoveries to greater heights.

Likewise, being able to understand math and science can help the arts excel to a new level as well. Having just one or the other isn’t enough. If we’re honestly looking to help a new generation grow up to be world changing citizens, we need to equip them to do so. The United States should do that by giving them a chance to spend time in the arts and develop the skills that will help them to meet life where they are.

Albert Einstein said, “I’m enough of an artist to draw freely on my imagination, which I think is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited. Imagination encircles the world.” Knowledge will always be limited and we will never be able to know everything. But it’s the way we use what we know that’s important, and it’s why we ought to invest in the arts.