Art is ingrained in our DNA. Why wouldn’t we expose our children to it in school? | Opinion

The decision to cut the art classes from the curriculum at Cassidy Elementary — and the more recent chorus cut at Morton Middle School — saddens me. The obsession of people and schools with science, mathematics, engineering, and technology lies at the base of this short-sighted decision. The policy makers who disparage and ridicule the arts are no better than students who whine “When am I ever going to use this?”

The ignorance in that aspersion is beyond comprehension. Take a minute and look around your room and identify just one item that is not influenced by art and design. Stare at a blank white paper. That is what world would look like without art.

Rabbi Harold Kushner has argued that only human have a creative spirit. Birds are hard-wired to construct their nests in just one way. All robins’ nests look the same because these birds are constrained by an innate blue print.

If we give humans the same materials their constructions would all be different because they have a creative drive that frees them from adhering to just one design.

Archaeologists and anthropologists agree that the development of the Folsom point was a milestone in human technological advancement. The Folsom point has concave fluted channels that grasp the arrowhead shaft more tightly and substantially improves the efficiency of the weapons in hunting. Hold that thought.

Cave paintings across Europe are truly magnificent renderings of the prehistoric artists who created them. The realistic details of the animals the people hunted for food is mind-boggling. In one cave in France a beautiful drawing of a bison was positioned so that his enlarged shoulder muscles lie on a natural bulge in the cave wall. One prehistoric human with a deformed pinky blew a cloud of red ocher dust over this hand much like an airbrush. The artist repeated the pattern throughout the cave and each image shows the deformed pinky.

Here is my question. Which of these developments, technology tools or artistic works, define us as human beings? They both do.

Science and mathematics feed our brains while art, music, and humanities feed our souls.

Art is ingrained into our very DNA. The double helical strands of DNA contain the quintessence that makes all life possible. While humans are not bound by inborn constraints, they recognize characteristics such as rhythm, symmetry, repetition, color, and pattern. Researchers have shown people from around the world to choose the aesthetically pleasing rectangle from a display of a variety of rectangles, overwhelmingly, the observer chose the rectangle that has a length that is about 1.618 times the width. This is called the golden mean and it forms the basis for most design in human societies around the world.

The universality of this preference bespeaks the existence of an internal drive that fuels our creative juices. In a word, art is fundamental to human nature that necessarily and sufficiently defines us as human beings.

The drive to draw is powerful. I am sure that we all will admit that if we are in a boring lecture, we will make doodles, curlicues, and images of our surroundings.

Psychologists determined long ago that infants as young as five months recognize and prefer faces that are highly symmetrical over those that are not. Given a series of patterns using facial features, babies spend more time studying the symmetrical ones.

Our innate artistic preferences are heavily dependent on colors as well as symmetry. Infants can see colors by age five months. Clothing designers use colors to enhance the appeal of their creations. Colors are associated with particular emotions: red evokes anger, power and violence.

Given that all humans are driven to create order out of chaos, how can the Cassidy school justify removing art from the curriculum?

Roger L. Guffey is a retired math teacher in Fayette County.