Nicholas F. New York

Art in the Contemporary American Classroom

Dearest President,

By now, it is a daily routine: landing on your desk--perhaps, even, right now--you receive letters of marijuana legislation, standardized testing, child abortion, gay rights; but what about literacy, cultural awareness–education for children of low socioeconomic standing? Would it sound absurd if I told you these issues all shared one solution? According to Plato, incorporating the arts in traditional grecian classrooms yielded a multitude of helpful influences on the growing mind, and should be at the forefront of every “young citizen[’s]” education.

Over the span of approximately sixty-three controlled experiments, scientists have assumed the general consensus that art–when applied properly in traditional scholastic curricula–reaps some very positive benefits in the realm of child literacy: as it happens, just recently I happened to leaf through a Guggenheim study in the New York Times advocating for the very same cause, and whose results eventually revealed (after integrating art in the developing classroom) enhanced performances over the course of six different literacy/thinking skills. In what may very well be his most popular philosophical essay, “The Republic,” Plato at length over the ideal/hypothetical elements that would compose his perfect society; within this society: art.

Referring to Luke Rinne--a postdoctoral fellow at the Johns Hopkins University of Education--it is not uncommon for an education in the arts to sieve into non-art domains; in fact, recent studies show that drama–such as Shakespeare, Sophocles, Williams (my favorite)–stimulates a positive influence of students’ written ability, and can teach them vital moral lessons they will need in further development, especially during their adolescent years. Moreover, as more and more schools narrow their curricula towards such technological disruptions as them S.T.E.M. program and other science-based regimens, the arts (and virtually all humanities-based subjects) shall become inherently less opaque in our society. Contrary to all the hullaballoo, art is not dead; but it can die.

While the sciences are helpful, and, no doubt, an important discipline hone both economically and commercially, art has proven itself–from paleolithic cave paintings to the episodic landscapes of Bruegel–to be a morally-instructive, integral part of mental growth/stimulation. Furthermore, interpolated from the known results of previous studies, implementation of arts in the classroom reaches out to a larger demographic of children, socioeconomically, and has proven itself largely successful in capturing the interest of typically-unsuccessful students and whetting their scholastic ability. Neurologists reason this is due to an increase in cognitive/motor-based activity, and even factor in the physiological possibility of such drastic changes–environmentally, that is–stimulating such a positive response.

But all consider the possibilities of expression. Teaching art studies would give students (emotionally) the tools, so to speak, to cope with waking situations in their everyday lives, rather than projecting their angst towards negative preoccupations (i.e., drugs, alcohol, violence).

As a young American, concerned for the culture and prosperity of everyday life, I implore you to consider the benefits such influential changes could reap from the minds of tomorrow’s generation. After all–to draw my question from Plato’s words–if art is the closest thing to beauty known by humankind, for what reason do we live if not to capture this very thing?

Cordially yours,


Ballston Spa High School

AP 12

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