Being a person who is a Studio Art and Communications double major, I couldn’t count the amount of times those who study primarily math and science comment on how much easier life as a non-science major must be. Yes, those of us focusing more on the arts normally do not have to spend weeks memorizing vocabulary and perfecting equations but, just because we aren’t not does not mean that our brains are not working hard too. It just happens to be working hard in a different way.
Those who devote the majority of their education studying the math and sciences spend a lot of time using the left side of the brain, which is primarily where language and logical processing takes place. Those of us who spend our time practicing music, painting a picture, creating a fictional world or something else along those lines are primarily the right side of the brain, which controls creativity and emotions. Of course, it is not an either or situation, but more of a continuum of how much an activity uses which side of the brain. Each side is important but those who do most of their learning using the right side seem to receive flak from those left brainers.
However, as stated on the School Superintendents Association Website, what should be recognized is that the arts “are a collection of skills and thought processes that transcend all areas of human engagement.” Just some of the positive effects on cognitive thought of the different arts include: dance, which helps develop motor gross motor skills, fine arts which help develop pattern recognition as well as the difference between the real and imagined, and music, which can improve special-temporal reasoning.
If that doesn’t give some insight onto how the arts are beneficial then read some facts. One study in particular featured students’ ability to form mental images and form connections improved after only 10 minutes of listening to Mozart. SAT scores were on average 103 points better for those students who took coursework in the arts than those who did not. And lastly, people in the arts have been found to have higher self-esteems.
If any of those little factoids didn’t convince you science buffs that the arts are important than I challenge you to challenge your critical thinking skills by going out and taking that painting class, Zumba lesson, or even something as simple as walking through the Cyrus M. Running Gallery or attending a theater production here on campus. What could be so bad about exercising both sides of that weird looking muscle inside our skulls?
This letter was written by Hilary Thompson ’14.