“There is a connection between the progress of a society and progress in the arts. The age of Pericles was also the age of Phidias. The age of Lorenzo de Medici was also the age of Leonardo da Vinci. The age of Elizabeth was the age of Shakespeare.” Toby Zieger – Communications Director of the White House – The West Wing, “Gone Quiet” (Season 3, Episode 6).
While these words were spoken by the fictional Communications Director Toby Ziegler on the TV series The West Wing, the words still ring true. Great moments and movements in history were also the great moments and movements in the arts. Throughout history the visual, musical, written, dramatic arts were alive, abundant, and supported by the societies they were part of.
The arts carry the messages of the society with them as time moves forward. The ideas, passions, troubles, victories, tragedies, inventions, failures, and people of the times are represented by the arts. While academics are essential in school; memorizing dates and formulas, the important people, places, things, and ideas in society are necessary to a quality education, there is much more to the learning process than that. Dealing with the development of observation of the world around us, the creation of new and imagined objects and materials, the process hind the development of a product versus simply the end product are aspects of life that the arts offer those who study it.
Through the arts there is an expectation and desire for struggle, failure, discovery, frustration, the unknown, and, finally, success in the learning that happens in a very different way than in other courses of study. The arts, in all their shapes and sizes, means and methods, are essential in the development of the keen and well educated mind.