Use extra credit to encourage students to visit the Blanton Museum

Alyssa Ramos, Columnist

For some UT students, the Blanton Museum of Art might be just another building on the Forty Acres, but those who are well-acquainted with the art museum know that it provides an important educational opportunity.  

The Blanton is not just for show. The building provides unique opportunities for students to connect with complex and impressive pieces while also tying it back to their education at UT. 

To encourage these deeper educational connections, more professors should offer extra credit for visiting the Blanton. 

The Blanton currently collaborates with about one-third of UT signature courses, according to a 2018 bulletin from the museum. Professors and curators work together to create exhibitions that assist students in grasping curriculum content in a more engaging way.

Signature courses are not the only courses that are taking advantage of this partnership. Courses from almost every department in UT, like the Cockrell School of Engineering and the McCombs School of Business, already participate in combining their curriculum with the Blanton, according to the bulletin.  

Siobhán McCusker, the museum educator for university audiences, said via email that all students would benefit from visiting the museum for a variety of reasons. 

“Looking at art is a reminder to simply slow down in life and to see more. In doing so, we can feel more, and this may lead to flourishing. The skills we use when we look at artworks together — noticing, perseverance, collaboration (and) activating critical and creative thinking — can solve our 21st century problems,” McCusker said. “Therefore, all UT students can benefit from a class visit to the Blanton,  not just those with a strong curricular connection.” 

Encouraging UT students to visit the museum for extra credit opportunities before the course ends would help enhance the material they learned throughout the semester, regardless of the topic. 

Studio art freshman Pierce Cedillo said that the addition of an extra credit opportunity at the Blanton would benefit students by incentivizing them to seek further education outside of the classroom. 

 “Whenever it comes to education and mixing real world experiences, we’re actually going out to find those things ourselves,” Cedillo said. “To see it in person –– to see that it’s not just in this textbook. I’m not just accepting this information, but I’m going out and seeing it for myself.” 

Art majors are not the only students to find Blanton visits beneficial. Other students on campus also see the various advantages of this opportunity, such as speech, language, and hearing sciences freshman Rachel Rouhani.  

“The Blanton Museum has a lot of different aspects of art and history. I think it’s one thing to learn about these things sitting in a classroom, but going out and actually seeking them out and looking at them with your eyes, I think it’s really beneficial,” Rouhani said. “And the fact that there’s an extra credit incentive, I mean, it’s just going to make people go more and will make people actually do it.” 

Furthermore, offering students extra credit opportunities through the Blanton would benefit students’ way of thinking for the remainder of their academic years. Students’ journey at UT begins in their signature courses, therefore signature course professors should implement a visit to the museum into their syllabus to help new students enhance their learning. 

By encouraging students to visit the Blanton Museum, students will be able to find a place to apply their knowledge in a setting where they can feel secure in their creative, personal and academic selves.  

Ramos is a journalism freshman from Laredo, Texas.