In medieval Europe, art education was taught by private tutors for wealthy, high ranked families (Flynn, 2011). If a member of the middle or lower class desired an education in art, music, writing, etc., they would have to seek out an apprenticeship from a professional of their chosen art form.
During the 1800's, the United States began its public education program, and Boston and Philadelphia were the first cities to offer art and music education in the new program (Flynn, 2011). Most public schools of that period did not have access to musical instruments, so students were taught music theory and techniques through singing lessons and school choirs. .
Studying the arts can help students develop coordination and even spawn creativity. In the early twentieth century, child psychologists started to suggest that art education should be used to assist in the development of children's creativity (Flynn, 2011). In the 1930's, the arts education grew so much in the United States that the Federal Arts Program (FAP) was created as part of President Franklin Roosevelt's New Deal; and provided jobs for unemployed artists and musicians to work in public schools (Flynn, 2011). .
The modern debate about the arts education is connected to the Educate America Act of 2000, which outlines the goals and standards for the nation's education (Flynn, 2011). The Educate America Act lists arts education as a part of the core curriculum, the U.S. Department of Education (DOE) and the NEA are the federal agencies that are responsible for the federal funds for arts education; and to them the arts education is one of the lowest priorities (Flynn, 2011). The majority of public schools provide art and music education at elementary school levels. It is a more local decision that is made to fund art and music education in higher school levels, which higher levels provide art and music classes that are optional to the students (Flynn, 2011).