Yes, Art is Essential to Learning

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Santa Clara University


A couple students recently walked by one of the sculptures on campus; they stopped and looked. One of them said, “That’s the ugliest thing I’ve ever seen.” The other one disagreed, “No, man, it’s cool.”

They left it at that and walked on, but it would have been instructive if they had stayed for a minute and discussed why one thought it ugly and the other thought it “cool.” That’s why the sculpture is there: to be looked at, talked about, appreciated for what it tries to do and criticized for what it fails to do. It is there because the Santa Clara campus is an educational institution where contemplation, discussion, and learning take place. It is there to elicit comment and to teach how we recognize beauty.