Many people disregard the importance of the arts in education. Sure, the arts are good for blowing off steam and encouraging creativity, but are they useful in the real world? If a student doesn’t have the capabilities of being the next Beethoven or da Vinci, what is the point of wasting resources on their continued arts education?
The Current State of Arts Education in Public Schools
The prevalence of art education in public schools has been on the decline since the early 1980s and in recent years, budget cuts have made it almost obsolete. Nowhere are these cuts more severe than in urban areas where minority children are the most unlikely population to receive arts education.
Why Parents and Teachers Should Be Worried about the Future of Arts Education
Several new research findings are proving what art education teachers have been saying for years: art isvaluable. A well-rounded educational experience that includes the arts is closely linked to academic achievement, social and emotional development, civic engagement, and equitable opportunity.
A recent study of high schoolers revealed a correlation between arts education and math and writing test scores. These high school students were tracked for three years and were required to take a minimum one credit of art education. Students who took more than the minimum requirement were 1.5 times more likely to meet or exceed the ACT Plan national average composite score! These students excelled in statewide tests, earning proficient levels in math, reading and writing.
How the Arts Enhance a Student’s Education and Overall Development
Plenty of research has supported the role of arts education in providing a comprehensive education. Let’s take a closer look at howexactly the arts affect a student’s ability to learn and develop:
- Learning to read music and understand concepts like time, rhythm, and pitch have a direct effect on a child’s ability to comprehend math skills. One study showed math scores of music students surpassed those of their non-musical classmates. Students from low socio-economic backgrounds were twice as likelyto excel in math if they had musical education.
- Studying the lyrics of music can teach students about syllabification, phonics, vocabulary, imagery, history, myths, folktales, geography, and culture.
- Studies show there is a direct correlation between continued involvement in theater and success in math and reading.
- Non-native English speakers may learn the language more quickly with the use of music. Thematic learning helps children learn in a safe, enjoyable, student-centered environment.
- Students who take the time to master a musical instrument learn about hard work, practice, and discipline. While performing in a group – like an orchestra, band, or choir – students learn to work together, appreciate teamwork, strive for a common goal, and develop negotiation skills.
- Cultural awareness is achieved through every form of arts education.
Arts education has always been important to those who value creativity. Now, as new evidence continues to emerge, more and more people are realizing its importance – especially when it plays such a crucial role in a well-rounded educational experience. What if the next Picasso is sitting in your classroom right now?
Jessica Velasco is a freelance writer. She has 15 years experience working as a teacher and child development specialist.
Schwartz, J. (2012). Kids Like Blues: Using Music and Video to Rock Your Classroom. Retrieved from Edutopia website: http://www.edutopia.org/blog/kids-like-blues-music-video-jon-schwartz
Kloberdanz, K. (2012). Want Your Kids to Excel in Math and Reading? Teach Them to Paint.Retrieved from Take Part website: http://www.takepart.com/article/2012/10/23/want-kids-excel-math-reading-teach-them-paint
Good Reasons Why Your Child Should Study Music.Retrieved from Schoolatoz website: http://www.schoolatoz.nsw.edu.au/homework-and-study/other-subjects-and-projects/the-arts/why-your-child-should-study-music