The study of literature, art, music and creative writing is a significant part of the curriculum for students throughout K-12 and college. However, these requirements should be lifted from school because they aren’t needed to be an informed citizen, place time pressure on students and have the potential to make the subjects worse.
Unlike reading, writing or mathematics, these artistic subjects aren’t necessary to be sufficiently educated. They aren’t used to perform most jobs, function in day-to-day life. The educational requirement for these subjects puts unnecessary pressure on students and their time, time that could be used toward working a job, exploring the student’s interests, family or friends.
Finally, requiring these subjects to be studied in an academic setting by every student could make students resent the arts more than enjoy them. Any fun from studying great paintings or poems is perverted when one has to take a mid-term on them or hand in a paper on them to be graded. Forcing students to study art or literature in an academic setting could turn the learning process from a great experience to a frustrating one.
Much is expounded about the enriching qualities of literary and artistic learning. Professor Arnold Weinstein of Brown University movingly said about literature “We cannot hold flowing water in our hands, but life itself flows into and onto the pages of the books we read, and then flows into us.” All of these wonderful things can still be gleaned without mandatory classroom instruction. A curious-minded individual can easily get all the enlightenment they want from the arts with a little encouragement and a library card. Music and art lessons can be done voluntarily as well. Students who would be enriched by literature would seek it out on their own. Students who wouldn’t seek it out on their own would likely not be retain much interest for it in a class, which is OK.
Instead of making the arts a chore through which all people drudge, keep them a joy to which some people run. Art, literature, music and creative writing should perhaps be optional subjects in school for willing participants, but should not be part of any school’s graduation requirements in K-12 or college.