The philosophy of the Visual and Performing Arts Department is based on the principle that education in the arts is an essential part of a basic education. As with the other academic disciplines, education in the arts is an important and necessary endeavor that nurtures the spiritual, moral, psychological, and social growth of all students.
Education in the arts provides unique learning opportunities not available in other disciplines. Even though instruction in how to appreciate an exceptional work of art or how to make informed aesthetic judgments may exist in other parts of the curriculum, it is only in the arts that these concepts form the foundation of instruction.
Education in the arts benefits society as well as students develop the necessary tools for:
- understanding human experiences, both past and present;
- learning to adapt to and respect other (often very different) ways of thinking, working and expressing themselves;
- learning artistic modes of problem solving, which bring an array of expressive, analytical, and developmental tools to every human situation (this is why we speak, for example of the "art" of teaching or the "art" of politics);
- understanding the influences of the arts, for example, in their power to create and reflect cultures, in the impact of design on virtually all we use in daily life, and in the interdependence of work in the arts with the broader worlds of ideas and action;
- making decisions in situations where there are no standard answers;
- analyzing nonverbal communication and making informed judgments about cultural products and issues; and communicating their thoughts and feelings in a variety of modes, giving them a vastly more powerful repertoire of self-expression. (Consortium of National Arts Education Associations, National Standards for Arts Education, Reston, VA: Music Educators National Conference, 1994)
Finally, as a Catholic school, we are afforded uncommon settings for the exploration of the arts. Putting the study of the arts into a Faith context is not only desirable, it is a natural outgrowth of the essence of both areas of our curriculum. Just as the teachings and philosophies of Christianity help students find a psychological and ethical center in their lives, arts education acts as an elusive but influential force in the decision making process, a force that is felt long after active participation in the arts has ceased.