Who Cares About Arts Education?!

Monet, da Vinci, and Van Gogh. Mozart, Bach, and Beethoven. George Bernard Shaw,
Tennessee Williams, and William Shakespeare.

Arts Education

Other than their mothers, whose life has really been influenced by what these men
have done? Naturally, we’ve enjoyed what they’ve produced; but have any of their
accomplishments led to ours?

Why should we waste precious resources – which are already severely limited – on arts
education? Sure. Beating on a drum can help blow off steam. And brandishing a paint-
laden brush can foster creativity. Donning a costume and reciting lines on stage might
even boost self-confidence.

But other than that – what good are the arts?

Adios!

Art education in public schools has been on the decline since 1980. Due to sever budget
cuts that have nearly crippled public education lately, even the few classes that survived
the last three decades have pretty much become extinct.

Many people say, “Good riddance!” Classes that teach skills like playing an instrument
or painting a sunset are better off getting axed, leaving valuable dollars for worth-while
classes like reading and math.

But Wait Just a Minute…

It turns out art fans are crowing quite loudly these days. Why? The arts might actually
be more beneficial than we thought. Gasp!

New research shows that a well-rounded educational experience is best. And “well-
rounded” includes the arts. In fact, this teaching method is closely linked to academic
achievement, social and emotional development, civic engagement, and equitable
opportunity. Who knew?!

While everyone has been worrying about how to improve math and reading scores, one
of the primary study aids has quietly slipped out the back door.

A recent study followed high school students for three years. The participants fell into
two groups. One group took the minimum art education requirement. The other group
took more than the minimum. And guess what happened. The students who took more
art classes did better in both math and reading.

Students who took extra arts classes were 1.5 times more likely to meet or exceed the
ACT Plan national average composite scores in these subjects. Additionally, they
excelled in statewide tests for math, reading and writing.

Good grief. That kind of takes the wind out the sails of any naysayers.

That’s Not All. There’s More.

We all know there is more to life than math and reading scores. Learning to learn is far
more important. And guess what. Art helps with that too. In fact, it seems art education
helps with just about everything!

There is a direct correlation between the ability to read music and the ability to conquer
math problems. Music students in a recent study had much higher math scores than their
non-musical counterparts. And, students from low socio-economic backgrounds were
two times as likely to comprehend math topics if they had musical training.

Want to enhance your child’s vocabulary, phonics skills, and syllabification (the
separation of a word into syllables)? What about teaching them to appreciate history,
myths, folktales, geography and culture? Well, help them study the lyrics of music.
They can learn all that and more.

Thematic learning helps youngsters learn in a safe, enjoyable, student-centered
environment. This style is perfect for anyone who is struggling to learn a second
language. For example, non-native English speakers should study music if they want to
master the language faster.

Learning to play a musical instrument is no easy feat. Many people quit before they
really give it a chance. If a youngster can stick it out, they will learn the importance
of hard work, practice, and discipline. Many of today’s youngsters need to learn those
lessons. Entitlement is like a nasty four letter word.

Contributing to an orchestra, band, or choir forces students to collaborate, work as a
team, strive for a common goal, and develop negotiation skills.

Those fruity, creative types have always valued art education. Apparently, the rest of us
had better learn to appreciate the arts too. Go figure. The nutty ones have had it right all
along!

References:

Good Reasons Why Your Child Should Study Music. Retrieved from Schoolatoz
http://www.schoolatoz.nsw.edu.au/homework-and-study/other-subjects-and-projects/the-arts/why-your-child-should-study-music
Kloberdanz, K. (2012). Want Your Kids to Excel in Math and Reading? Teach Them to Paint.
http://www.takepart.com/article/2012/10/23/want-kids-excel-math-reading-teach-them-paint
Schwartz, J. (2012). Kids Like Blues: Using Music and Video to Rock Your Classroom.
http://www.edutopia.org/blog/kids-like-blues-music-video-jon-schwartz

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