COLUMN: Why are only fine arts required for graduation?

As the board considers graduation requirements at RB, where aren't practical life skill courses like Foods and Auto Tech required?

Charlie Connelly

As the board considers graduation requirements at RB, where aren't practical life skill courses like Foods and Auto Tech required?

Robby Filec, Staff Reporter

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It’s 40 degrees out.   Pretty chilly. Not another car in sight, and your phone is dead. You sigh and look at the flat tire on your Ford 2003 Taurus. There is a gas station two miles down the road that you can go to and get help. If you only you took Auto Tech and knew how to change it. At least you know how to sing in different pitches, which will no doubt keep you occupied on your way to the station.

Recently, our school board voted to institute a waiver that would allow students to opt out of taking Fine Arts Survey as a graduation requirement.  I support this decision.

I am a big fan of the arts, don’t get me wrong. I enjoy ceramics, singing and dancing. Check out Robby Sings the Hallway Classics if you don’t believe me. You should check it out even if you do believe me.  And yet, I still don’t know why a class like Fine Arts Survey is required whereas classes like Foods or Auto Tech, essentially the Applied Arts, are not.  There is obviously nothing wrong with Fine Arts; however it does not make sense to me why something entertaining is in the place of something that is practically beneficial. As young people, we need to become less dependent on others because they won’t always be there for us. Taking classes in the applied arts would make us more independent at a younger age.

“You can eat without dancing, but you cannot dance without eating.”

While enjoyable, the Fine Arts Survey course is not necessary for your life to take, unless of course you go into the arts. Some may argue that Foods is unimportant to take because a parent may teach you how to cook, you can order food, go out to eat, and so on.  I disagree.  In Foods, you not only learn how to cook and prepare food, but you also learn the nutritional pro’s and con’s of different foods.

To put it bluntly, you can eat without dancing, but you cannot dance without eating.

Kids nowadays are heavily dependent on others, parents and siblings.  I am guilty of this much of the time.  I cannot cook to save my life, yet I am learning more about my health and have started cooking in Foods class.  Many kids do not understand how a car works or what is healthy to put in their bodies.  There is a reason that we have a childhood obesity and overall obesity problem in this country.

I absolutely see the point of wanting kids to be exposed to something they have not tried.  I can agree with that point, but for kids who have found their niche in something they enjoy, requiring Fine Arts Survey when you do not require exposure to the applied arts is unfair.  What if a student does not enjoy the arts?  If we are requiring students to try something they might like, why not require them to get exposure to an applied art that might not only be entertaining but also practical.

Fine Arts Survey is a requirement to graduate from RB, but it is not a requirement to enter into college.

I enjoy the arts and believe Fine Arts Survey to be an excellent class, but I do not believe that it should be required for graduation when there is no similar requirement in the applied arts.


2 Responses to “COLUMN: Why are only fine arts required for graduation?”

  1. Mr. Baum on February 1st, 2013 12:11 pm


    I think you’ve identified an area of concern that the school needs to address. You are absolutely right that the applied arts are valuable to the point that we should consider having a graduation requirement for the applied arts. However, comparing the lack of an applied arts requirement to the presence of a Fine Arts requirement will not bring about the changes you want to see. One area is not more important than the other, they are both important to the well rounded education that a student should receive from RB.

    I don’t disagree with your assertions about applied arts, but I do disagree with your statement: “While enjoyable, the Fine Arts Survey course is not necessary for your life to take”

    We are all citizens of this world and all it has to offer. While science teaches you how the world works, math teaches you how to measure the world, history teaches you how to understand and learn about time and other cultures, English teaches us how to be better communicators with our language, applied arts teach us life skills, and fine arts teach us how to find meaning in it all (using non-linguistic mediums). All the subjects are interconnected, and necessary for a rich and fulfilling life, regardless of career path.

    Please continue to champion the Applied Arts, but do so in a way that doesn’t diminish the role of any of the other subjects.

    Mr. Baum


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  2. rb student on February 1st, 2013 8:01 pm

    No offense to Robbie, but I disagree with this article.
    According to the graduation requirement, you are required to take one year’s worth of applied arts classes. Most don’t need this because they have the option of a foreign language.
    As a music student, I took fine arts survey. I enjoyed it greatly. The class taught me new ideas about my work and what I do with music. It can also help with the core classes. Theatre can correlate to English through Shakespeare and the theory of the suspension of disbelief. Dance can correlate to history, and studying cultures. Music can go with math, and there are many ways to prove it. Art relates to science through missing chemicals to create pottery.
    In 2010, RB received the fine arts honors from the state of Illinois. This was given to the school because of the fine arts survey requirement. Taking away the requirement simply takes away the honor for the program that we as students, faculty, and community built up.


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COLUMN: Why are only fine arts required for graduation?