Milton Arts Requirement
Against the Requirement
by The Milton Measure on Friday, October 14th, 2011
In theory, the arts requirement at Milton seems like a benign promotion of academic diversity. The school exposes every student to some type of art which they may not have been inclined to take, and either the student develops a new interest or—and this is the worst case scenario—the student becomes more well-rounded. However, to fully evaluate an academic requirement, we must consider what must be sacrificed to fulfill it.Obviously, artistically challenged and/or narrowly focused students at Milton sacrifice a great deal of time towards completing a course which will be of little benefit to them. As mentioned earlier, we assume that the ‘well-roundedness’ endowed by this single course is somehow tangibly worth the time it takes. But if one truly has no interest in art, couldn’t he expand his mind by studying a less conventional course in a subject area he is more interested in? Whether it be a literature course in Spanish, a computer programming course, or a half-course in the sciences, this course would serve as a cornerstone from which he could determine his future academic path.
I often hear that it is important for high school students to discover themselves by taking a wide array of courses; specialization is for college, or even graduate school. But is requiring an arts course truly allowing students to discover themselves? A student should have the liberty of taking the courses which suit their interests. From here, he can more effectively (and importantly) evaluate what he already considers to be his interests. Of course, if he feels the need to branch off, he should have a variety of introductory electives to choose from.
We should, however, distinguish between pursuing one’s interest and not requiring any courses at all. Certain subject matter—English, Math, Science—are ubiquitous with our daily lives and clearly could not be ignored. But “art” is a hobby and not integral to a student’s future. And even if it were, a single art course wouldn’t make a lasting impact anyway.
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