As the Age of Technology dawns, what role do the Arts have?

Given the vast amount of clubs and extracurriculars currently available in high schools across the state of New Jersey, where do the arts fall among so many other options?

Fair Lawn High School currently offers over 60 clubs and activities alongside 27 sports teams and numerous electives, ranging from fashion design to engineering. The great scope of activities available is part of the school’s desire to cater to all students’ talents and possible career paths. As the range of options for students increases however, electives and extracurriculars must compete for students to fill their ranks. And yet, despite this fierce competition for students in extracurriculars, the importance of the arts, like music and fine arts, cannot be underestimated.

Fair Lawn High School students benefit from a strong arts and music program, which is important, considering that the arts can push students to be who they are and what they want to be in the future.

“I think the arts are essential to students and human beings,” said Scott Avidon, Fair Lawn High School band director. “I think that without the arts, you have a lack of being in touch with things that matter.”

Additionally, the arts are an essential way for students and adults to become more cultured members of society, as they help students express themselves without using words. Subjects like art and music help us to communicate with others across the globe and help to highlight similarities in our cultures.

“I believe it’s not just beneficial, but imperative to becoming a person who has to live in a global world, and communicate with other countries, communicate about where we’ve come from and where we’re going, and expand our visions completely in a way that is outside of general knowledge,” said Maria Wheeler, an English teacher at Fair Lawn High School.

In recent years, the significance of the arts has also brought new attention to the acronym “STEM,” short for Science, Engineering, Technology, and Math.  A recent push has been made to change the acronym to “STEAM,” so as to accommodate “Art” and appeal to those interested in pursuing an art career. Such a change could allow students to problem solve in a creative way as well as increase critical thinking skills in science, math, and technology. Some schools like Fair Lawn High School already seem to be leaning towards a STEAM education program model given the emphasis placed on the arts.

“I think there’s a lot of natural connections, because no matter what, when they are talking about STEM, they’re talking about creating things, just using technology to do it, and that’s still the arts” said media specialist and Fair Lawn High School librarian Jennifer Bauman.

Not only do the arts benefit students with career paths, they can also increase discipline. Students who practice every day for hours on end develop an incredible work ethic. This work ethic can be carried over into other aspects of life such as schoolwork and regular work. Finally, according to Northwestern University, studies show that playing an instrument can increase coordination and memory skills.

“I look at my own students here, and again back to the discipline required to perfect or even try to perfect… that work ethic carries over into everything and anything else you’re going to do,” said Avidon.



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