Art in education: MMA Academy at Washington High

Art created by Jordan Frazier

Art has been an essential part of human culture for as long as we can remember, with paintings and drawings from ancient times used to express human identity and convey stories. While art plays a significant role in shaping our society, its role in education is also worth mentioning. Art in education offers students a variety of opportunities and benefits beyond learning how to paint and draw. At Washington High School, student artists explore the power of art in education through the Multimedia Art Academy a three-year program that offers an academy-like atmosphere inside the school for students who have a deep interest in art and those who may want to enter the art career field in the future. The MMAA program focuses not only on general education, which is important for students but also heavily incorporates various types of art into the curriculum. This academy-structured program provides students with fun and motivational activities, more in-depth lessons on art, and mentorship/internship opportunities. Together with Jordan Frazier and Sabrina Greiner, we will dive into students’ experiences regarding art in education and how MMAA has benefited them.

Jordan Frazier, a senior at Washington High School, has been a part of the MMAA program since her sophomore year. Jordan always has had a passion for art and has hoped to join the academy ever since she discovered it during freshman year. 

She provides an example of how the academy integrated art with classes such as English and history through one of her most memorable projects created during her junior year: the 1920s magazine. According to Jordan, “History got us started off learning about the roaring ‘20s, and how it was this golden era. In English, it tied back to The Great Gatsby because that’s what we were re-reading at the time. Then, we had to create a magazine about what we’ve learned and then a little of what we’ve learned in digital imaging.” Jordan found the whole process interesting and memorable: “Because of the front cover we get to do art, we tried to make it look as authentic as possible with like the little barcode in the bottom. It was so fun.”

Jordan also finds the Multimedia Art Academy helpful when it comes to preparing her for classes because MMAA students have three classes, all associated with each other. She believes that education in art is beneficial to the development of students, especially when it comes to mental skills such as creativity and critical thinking. She also believes that art is a class that should be required, as she says, “You learn a lot of good things and you could develop a new profound passion for it. I don’t think you need to be too ‘try hard;’ it can be something to take your mind off after a long day. If art is your next period, it can serve as a refuge or a class you could slack in.” Jordan’s positive experience in the MMAA program highlights the impact of art in terms of creativity and critical thinking.

Next, we have Sabrina Greiner, who is a junior at Washington High School. Although she may not be in the MMA program, she is currently taking Digital Imaging 1, along with many other MMA juniors. She recalls a project that she did call ‘extreme noticing’, where students walk around campus, taking close-up photos of items, places, or people. Sabrina says, “We got to explore around campus noticing things we haven’t noticed before, and then capture it into photography and art so people could see it in our perspective.” This activity was not only her first project but also her most memorable one.

Art allows students to express themselves and stretch their creativity. Sabrina emphasizes this by saying, “It can definitely help students explore their creative side that you can’t really do in math, and maybe English but not to the same extent. There’s a lot more flexibility in everything, and personally, I just feel happier in this class.” 

In addition, creativity and critical thinking are also vital skills that can be learned through integrating students with art-based education. Sabrina states, “It makes you embrace a different side, other than just logic. When you have a question, it’s not all about trying to give an answer; it’s more like ‘You have a question. What is the question?’ and ‘How can you change the question?’ and things like that. Moreover, it also allowed you to embrace a wider range of emotions than a lot of other subjects.” Sabrina highlights the dynamics of art education, mentioning how it encourages students to dive deeper into the creative and critical thinking aspects of many subjects.

Jordan and Sabrina’s experience with the academy provides an interesting case regarding the significance of art in education. Art education is not limited to creation. It allows an integrated approach to learning and helps students embrace diverse perspectives while gaining essential knowledge and skills. 

Jenny Hsu is a senior at Washington High School, born in Xian, China, and raised in Fremont, California. This is her first year at The Hatchet. She is interested in covering topics related to music and psychology. Jenny has diverse interests including music, band, anime, and art. In the future, she plans on attending university and potentially majoring in forensics.

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