Learning the arts is a vital part of every life
It is not enough to teach a man a specialty. Through it he may become a kind of useful machine but not a harmoniously developed personality. It is essential that the student acquire an understanding of and lively feeling for values. He must must acquire a vivid sense of the beautiful and of the morally good. Otherwise he -- with his specialized knowledge -- more closely resembles a well-trained dog than a harmoniously developed person. -- Albert Einstein
That quote came to mind when I read Bob Jones' column "Why kids need strong arts teaching" (Midweek, Sept.12,) which said, "STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) is great. And maybe we'll produce a new Einstein."
For those of us who have had an arts education, it can be hard to express to others why we consider it so valuable not only to our development as artists and per- formers, but also to our growth as human beings.
So here are some reasons, which I hope will give a better idea of why the arts are so important to everyone.
Why should we revere the arts?
"The finest works of art are precious, among other reasons, because they make it possible for us to know, if only imperfectly and for a little while, what it actually feels like to think subtly and feel nobly." -- Aldous Huxley
Do the arts promote high standards?
"There are certain things in which mediocrity is not to be endured, such as poetry, music (and) painting." -- Jean de la Bruyere
What causes the arts to go into decline?
"More good things in life are lost by indifference than ever were lost by active hostility." -- Robert Gordon Menzies
Once a tradition dies out, can't it be revived later?
"An art which has fallen into disuse for the period of a generation is altogether lost. -- Michael Polanyi
Is art like nature?
"History repeats itself, but the special call of an art which has passed away is never reproduced. It is utterly gone out of the world as the song of a destroyed wild bird." -- Joseph Conrad
What does the state of the arts tell us about a nation?
"Nations are destroyed or flourish in proportion as their poetry, painting and music are destroyed or flourish." -- William Blake
Why is formal training in music important?
"A musical education is necessary for musical judgement. What most people enjoy is hardly music; it is, rather, a drowsy reverie relieved by nervous thrills." -- George Santayana
What if I find a masterpiece boring?
"The essence of boredom is to be found in the obsessive search for novelty." -- George Leonard
Does the pace of our lives affect our understanding and appreciation of the arts?
"Art of any profundity can be appreciated only slowly, gradually, in leisurely contemplation." -- Daniel Gregory Mason
So is patience important in experiencing art?
"We should comport ourselves with the masterpieces of art as with exalted personages -- stand quietly before them and wait until they speak to us." -- Arthur Schopenhauer
Are there any benefits to an arts education that go beyond the arts themselves?
"Every man's ability may be strengthened or increased by culture." -- John Abbott
C. Ikehara is a freelance writer who lives in Aiea.