Global Cities Visual Art: Beneficial or Detrimental

[/caption] Hedy Gutfreund Staff Writer “I need to go to the art room!” This eight-word phrase is consistently heard before school, during free periods, and after school in the freshman hallway. At what point does art become detrimental to the academic courses the freshmen have? When all free periods are spent finishing art projects that are graded as harshly as projects for any class, but take a lot longer to complete, freshmen begin to worry about how the required art component of Global Cities is affecting their other classes. Many students have three free periods in the entire eight-day cycle due to Global Cities Visual Arts. This class, which meets three times in an eight-day cycle, counts as a half a credit. With the health class taking up a block during two quarters during the year, even some in-season athletes are stuck with no full free periods. I took a poll of the freshmen via a slip in their mailboxes, and over 80% of those who responded said that they did not think that the visual arts component should be required of the freshmen. 61% of freshmen are taking an elective or second language at some point this year, which means that they will have three free periods in the entire cycle for at least one quarter if they participate in a sport. Without these coveted frees, students lose time to meet with their teachers to discuss assignments or simply get work done in advance. Freshman Leah Mellett is one of these 65 freshmen. She said “Art class adds extra homework to our normal homework load. It sacrifices our free time during, before, and after school.” As one person wrote on his poll when asked how long art homework takes him weekly said, “I should be spending one hour every day, but I have other, more important homework.” This student also said that he uses his sole free for art homework in order to maintain a “good grade” in the class. Another person wrote on her survey that “Art is so stressful! Art is supposed to relax you, but all it does is mega stress us out!” When asked how much time they spent on art homework daily or weekly, many students simply wrote, “Too much!” The average number of hours spent weekly in the art room by the freshmen who responded was approximately three hours and twenty minutes, with some shocking responses such as nine hours a week spent on art homework. Becca Andruzzi feels like her frees are being wasted, saying “I have three frees during my eight day cycle, which my teacher expects me to use on art. So basically, there is no reason to have those frees – I might as well have a class, because we’ll be doing art anyway.” Jacob Hirshman worries about whether or not we are all really on an equal playing field, and he disagrees with the art teachers who say that hard work leads to good art projects. He argues, “Some people are less artistically capable than others. Some people physically are incapable of doing good artwork.” To get a different perspective, I talked to my visual arts teacher, Ms. Ross. She told me how the goal of global cities art is to give all students in the school a foundation in visual arts. To those who think art is unimportant and should not be required, she wonders, “Why should art be the low person on the totem pole? What causes that to be the question? I am on a personal mission to make arts matter in society.” She then went on to describe that the fact that colleges do not require a basis in art makes it seem less important, and about this, she said, “It is a disconnect that needs to be changed.” On the history of the visual arts requirement, she informed me that there used to be a humanities course that involved visual arts, English, and history. Eventually, this trio broke up, and history and art combined to work on a goal to add a more global approach to the curriculum. She enjoys teaching visual arts because, “I think we really show kids our passion.” All in all, some believe that art just gives too much work, and some believe the class is simply unfair—and people will always complain. I believe that art is a fun class and teaches time management, but it is a tough lesson to learn by having no frees and lots of extra work. Art is a vital part of any high school career, but having to take a visual arts class that eats up one’s free time can put a negative connotation on art as a whole, which is truly unfortunate.]]>