“Art does not solve problems, but makes us aware of their existence,” sculptor Magdalena Abakanowicz has said. Arts education, on the other hand, does solve problems. Years of research show that it’s closely linked to almost everything that we as a nation say we want for our children and demand from our schools: academic achievement, social and emotional development, civic engagement, and equitable opportunity.
Involvement in the arts is associated with gains in math, reading, cognitive ability, critical thinking, and verbal skill. Arts learning can also improve motivation, concentration, confidence, and teamwork. A 2005 report by the Rand Corporation about the visual arts argues that the intrinsic pleasures and stimulation of the art experience do more than sweeten an individual’s life — according to the report, they “can connect people more deeply to the world and open them to new ways of seeing,” creating the foundation to forge social bonds and community cohesion. And strong arts programming in schools helps close a gap that has left many a child behind: From Mozart for babies to tutus for toddlers to family trips to the museum, the children of affluent, aspiring parents generally get exposed to the arts whether or not public schools provide them. Low-income children, often, do not. “Arts education enables those children from a financially challenged background to have a more level playing field with children who have had those enrichment experiences,” says Eric Cooper, president and founder of the National Urban Alliance for Effective Education.
It has become a mantra in education that No Child Left Behind, with its pressure to raise test scores, has reduced classroom time devoted to the arts (and science, social studies, and everything else besides reading and math). Evidence supports this contention — we’ll get to the statistics in a minute — but the reality is more complex. Arts education has been slipping for more than three decades, the result of tight budgets, an ever-growing list of state mandates that have crammed the classroom curriculum, and a public sense that the arts are lovely but not essential.
This erosion chipped away at the constituencies that might have defended the arts in the era of NCLB — children who had no music and art classes in the 1970s and 1980s may not appreciate their value now. “We have a whole generation of teachers and parents who have not had the advantage of arts in their own education,” says Sandra Ruppert, director of the Arts Education Partnership (AEP), a national coalition of arts, business, education, philanthropic, and government organizations.
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Why Arts Education Is Crucial, and Who’s Doing It Best
The aim of art education in the public schools is not to make more professional artists but to teach people to live happier, fuller lives; to extract more out of their experience, whatever that experience may be.
– Grant Wood, “Art in the Daily Life of the Child”
“Be Smart, Include Art,” encourages the National Parent Teacher Association with its program by that name.
“Learning about the visual arts gives students a window onto the rich and interesting world around them, teaching them about their own history and culture, as well as those of other people.” Plus, the PTA reminds us, it’s a visual world out there. “In a world in which ideas and information are often delivered visually, children need to learn how to analyze and judge the meaning of images and how to use them to communicate their own ideas.”
Still, most schools have seen their art programs slashed to ribbons over the past decade. What’s a teacher to do? Make a tapestry! Using discipline-based art education, weave art throughout the curriculum for a richly textured educational experience.
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Enrich Learning with Discipline-Based Art Education
Does listening to Mozart really make you smarter? In view of the current interest in brain development, we thought the Internet could help shed some light on how music and the arts impact on the healthy development of the brain. Some websites, loaded with information, are listed below. Unfortunately, our search uncovered no Canadian sites that address this topic yet.
Americans for the Arts (Washington, DC).
This site links to numerous articles on arts in early childhood, such as Early Childhood Research Supports Arts Education. Several national US organizations have formed an Arts Education Partnership website at http://aep-arts.org, which links to other sites such as the Young Children and the Arts – Research site atwww.wolftrap.org/institute/aep/research.html. This encompasses information compiled by the Arts Education Partnership Taskforce on Children’s Learning and the Arts: Birth to age Eight and the task force report, Young Children and the Arts: Making Creative Connections.
The Educational CyberPlayGround, run by the Diversity University Collaboratory, provides a wealth of information on arts/music in early child development, including elements such as research findings, auditory/brain plasticity and music; and more brain used when making music.
Music (Education) for Young Children — Music and the Brain. With the recent explosion of research and publicity regarding music and its effect on brain development, this site refers to further resources on the topics including: MuSICA – the Music and Science Information
Archive and the Mozart Effect Website.
Music In Schools on the Upbeat offers articles on the Importance of music education, and includes links to articles and research such as: Music Magic, connections between music, brain development and education, and music and the brain research.
ARTSEDGE is the National Arts & Education Information website, which includes a link to
http://artsedge.kennedy-center.org/nb/guests/Rauscher5.html where you will find an excerpt from Dr. Frances H. Rauscher’s report findings, Music beats Computers at Enhancing ECD.
MENC: National Association for Music Education, Early Childhood Special Research Interest Group website. This links to http://menc.org/publication/articles/academic/hawaii.htm where an article is posted by Dr Arthur Harvey (University of Hawaii) entitled An Intelligence View of Music Education.
Additional Related Resource Pages
Books on music & early child development: this website holds a relatively comprehensive
bibliography of related research over the past 80 years.
Neuroscience Links: Timing, Concentration and Motor Skills contains a bibliography of related research over the past 40 years.
The National Art Education Association’s website lists numerous publications available on arts/music and early child development and education.
The website of the Early Childhood News newsletter, which list and link to various articles that have been published on art & music in early childhood. For example, http://earlychildhoodnews.com/archive/wired.htm links to an article by Cynthia Ensign Baney entitled Wired for Sound: The Essential Connection Between Music and Development.
Valerie Rhomberg is the ECE training coordinator and an ECE instructor with Canadian Mothercraft Society in Toronto, Ontario. You can reach her by e-mail at email@example.com.
R.M.J. Rhomberg/Stevenson is principal of WEBMINDER® research, marketing & design, and can be reached by fax at (416) 482-0450 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. © CCCF 2000
Interaction, Vol. 14, No. 2, Summer 2000. P. 18. © CCCF
by Valerie Rhomberg
netsearched by R.M.J. Rhomberg-Stevenson
Topics: Creative Arts, The Arts and Your School, more…
Does your child struggle with the fundamentals of reading, writing, and ‘rithmetic? Some experts say that infusing the creative arts into the core curriculum could help struggling students get a leg up. But how can music, dance, and visual arts help your child learn his times tables?
For some, it may come as a surprise to learn that the arts are a powerful tool for learning other, more core educational concepts. Research has shown that “arts-integrated education” improves academic achievement across the entire spectrum, but generates the greatest improvement in reading and writing skills and language development. In addition, arts integration improves social skills, motivation and student engagement.
For most of us, the thought of art class conjures up images of milk-jug pigs and lopsided ceramic pots. However, in an arts-integrated curriculum, art is not taught as a separate subject. It is used within the standard academic subject class as a tool to improve understanding and comprehension. Core curriculum teachers and professional artists or arts educators work closely together to create lesson plans and projects that will accomplish curriculum goals.
So how exactly does the arts-integrated approach work? A sample lesson plan might have students working on reading comprehension by presenting dramatic interpretations of literary characters, or studying social history by engaging in songs, dances, and literary traditions of a culture. Different art forms can help improve understanding in various ways. For instance, music often helps with spatial reasoning, dance can help with creativity, and drama improves reading comprehension and conflict resolution. Especially for students who struggle to sit still, lose focus while working alone, or are challenged by rote memorization of facts and figures, arts-integrated education presents that opportunity to infuse creative energy into all elements of classroom learning.
Researchers have discovered that arts-integration has a particularly positive effect upon at-risk students. Students not only showed improved academic performance, but were motivated and interested in their projects and had a desire to succeed, which immersed in an arts-integrated program. For example, students often work together to collaborate on their projects, and in turn, show more courtesy toward one another and improve their social skills.
So why isn’t everyone jumping on the arts-integration bandwagon? Most significantly, the process of implementing arts-integrated curricula requires time and money. More time is needed to train teachers and more money is needed to bring in more staff and supplies. “Schools are pressed for resources and time and can’t do much besides teach reading and mathematics through traditional curriculum designs,” states James Catterall, Ph.D., professor at UCLA Graduate School of Education and Information Studies.
According to Catterall, school districts feel they can’t afford to properly train teachers to teach in an arts-integrated classroom, since teachers are already required to take professional development courses which take up a huge chunk of precious time and money. In addition to the professional development courses necessary for arts integration, teachers would have to spend a lot more time collaborating with other teachers, arts educators and professional artists on lesson plans and projects. Nevertheless, says Catterall, “I think interest in linking the arts to academic studies appeals to many educators who have, rightfully, become frustrated with more mainstream school and curriculum improvement efforts.”
With new education funding being dedicated to innovative school programs that get the job done, the chances are better than ever that your child’s school could be the next to adopt the arts-integrated approach. If you believe that your child or local school could benefit by investigating the integration of arts into core curriculum classes, take action! Contact like-minded parents, speak to the school principal, and attend school board meetings.
by Natalie Kidd
“Look at the schools that have the highest test scores on standardized tests. Generally, you will find that the arts are a part of their curriculum. Now, is that just a coincidence?”
Q: The Kennedy Center’s Arts Education Vision Statement asserts, “The arts are a critical and essential part of the education of every young person in America.” Why is this true?
A: The arts are an essential part of American culture as a whole. It is very important that every young person comes into direct contact with the arts—not only as a passive observer, but also as an active participant.
The arts are also a great equalizer in terms of economic and social discrepancies. They have a way of leveling the playing field, allowing individuals to progress in life more effectively. There is also a lot of research that addresses the impact that the arts have on cognitive learning skills. For example, learning to play the piano can aid in developing mathematical skills. Visual arts and dance can affect the spatial perception of students—particularly young students.
Q: What value does arts-based learning provide to students?
A: The arts encourage learning as a process of discovery. We want every student to be a researcher who is asking probing questions—not only demonstrating their knowledge, but also testing and defending the assumptions that they are making. This is something that artists do all the time.
Also, when you look at early education practices, you see that they are filled with arts activities, because they offer the most basic and immediate ways to connect to a young mind. The arts challenge students of all ages, and engage them in a way that is often more kinesthetic, and perhaps more emotionally satisfying, than the “traditional” approach to teaching a text.
Q: How can one defend the role of arts in education when so much emphasis is placed on standardized test scores?
A: It’s always interesting to look at the schools that have the highest test scores on standardized tests. Generally you will find that the arts are a part of their curriculum. Now, is that just a coincidence? Or is it part of the environment that makes the students more successful in their efforts to learn and compete on standardized tests?
A publication called Critical Links contains empirical data on a variety of tests and research initiatives looking at the impact of the arts on academic achievement—not in the domain of the arts, but in other academic areas. This material has made very compelling statements about the effectiveness of using the arts to teach other subjects.
Q: What is the classroom teacher’s role in advocating for the place of the arts in education?
A: First, professional development is extremely important. Teachers from all disciplines can participate in programs to learn the techniques of an arts-integrated approach to education. The Kennedy Center offers a wide array of professional development opportunities and experiences that demonstrate this sort of integrated approach to learning. Educators can incorporate these techniques into just about any text or topic that they are teaching.
Second, teachers should look to the leadership in the school, as well as the general community, to discover available resources. If there is an arts specialist in your school, look at him or her as a collaborator in expanding your students’ experience. Look to community cultural organizations that might present productions or have teaching artists willing to come in and teach a hands-on activity.
Third, teachers can talk to their school boards, PTAs, and decision-makers in their community to make sure that their schools have access to cultural resources, and that artists or teaching artists are on the faculties of their schools.
Q: If you could implement one initiative to improve American students’ education in the arts, what would it be?
A: I think that I would create an initiative mandating that all of the arts would be available at every school, and that every student had regular opportunities to receive instruction and participate actively in a variety of art forms. I would like to see schools implement arts programs that give students the opportunity to develop fully in all of the artistic disciplines. Students should have ample opportunity to view, create, and critique all of the arts.
A Conversation with Derek E. Gordon
Derek E. Gordon, Executive Director, Jazz at Lincoln Center and former senior vice president for the Kennedy Center, discusses the place of the arts in a comprehensive education.
A new interdisciplinary field researches the effects of learning fine arts on a student’s brain.
BALTIMORE — For years, school systems across the nation dropped classes in the fine arts to concentrate on getting students to pass tests in reading and mathematics.
Now, a growing body of brain research suggests that teaching the arts may be good for students across all disciplines.
Scientists are looking at, for instance, whether students at an arts high school who study music or drawing have brains that allow them to focus more intensely or do better in the classroom.
Brain research in the last several years has uncovered startling ideas about how students learn. First came proof, some years ago, that our brains do not lose brain cells as we get older, but are always capable of growing.
Now neuroscientists are investigating how training students in the arts may change the structure of their brains and the way they think. Does putting a violin in the hands of an elementary school student help the child do math better? Will learning to dance or paint improve a student’s spatial ability or ability to learn to read?
Research in those areas, Harvard University psychologist Jerome Kagan said, is “as deserving of a clinical trial as a drug for cancer that has not yet been shown to be effective.”
There aren’t many conclusions yet that can be translated into the classroom, but an interdisciplinary field is emerging between education and neuroscience.
Much of the research into the arts has centered on music and the brain. One researcher studying students who go to an arts high school found a correlation between those who were trained in music and their ability to do geometry.
A four-year study, conducted by Ellen Winner of Boston College and Gottfried Schlaug of Harvard, is looking at the effects of playing the piano or the violin on students in elementary school.
Winner said she was skeptical of claims that schools offering fine arts had seen an increase in test scores and a generally better school climate. She said she had examined those assertions and found that they couldn’t be backed up by research.
The study Winner is working on has shown that children who receive a small amount of musical training — as little as half an hour of lessons a week and 10 minutes of practice a day — do have structural changes in their brains that can be measured. And those students, Winner said, were better at tests that required them to use their fingers with dexterity.
May 24, 2009|Liz Bowie
It was a bright sunny Saturday morning when the children started to arrive. The Gertrude School was closed to public school education in 1968, and reopened its doors in 1979 as the Yosemite Western Artists Gallery, started by a group of retired artists and those who were interested in learning more about the arts.
Located in the mountain community of Ahwahnee, not far from Yosemite National Park, YWA quickly became a flourishing community enterprise dedicated to the preservation and development of the arts.
The year was 1982, when a group of mothers of young children approached me on the idea of starting a summer arts program that became known as Discovery. Since both my wife and I were artists, former teachers, and members, we approached the YWA board with the idea that a children’s art program could keep the club alive by adding new members each year – the parents of those children whom participated. With YWA sponsorship, Discovery took off like a bird, and through the years has contributed to the general education of the children in this mountain community.
Every Monday through Friday during the summer months, children ages 6 through 16 arrive with snack sacks, and would place them on shelves in the refrigerator in the kitchen. This was one of those mornings. Laying out sets of "Crayola Markers” and sheets of 12″ x 9″ white sulfite paper, I said, "Draw anything you like,” I wanted to get an indication of how well these children could draw. Some would scribble aimlessly. Others held markers so tightly in their hands, that their fingers turned white around the edges. There was at least one child who was quite proficient at creating recognizable images. The majority tended to rely upon stereotypes of stick figure, lollypop trees, gabled-roofed houses, and suns with radiating spikes. They worked judiciously scribbling a line object here, and another one there. They seemed to take an inordinate amount of time filling in the color, or just swishing color around the page to suggest volume. It all appeared as random selection with no visible thought process of composition in mind.
After collecting these first efforts, I said, "I haven’t taught you anything yet, have I?” Eyes and heads would roam from one to another, wondering what to say, when one brave soul replied, "No. These were pictures are from our imagination.” "I see. Where do you keep your imaginations – under your arm pits?” They all laughed. The ice was broken, and the journey began.
All children are born with a tendency to scribble – on anything. Some quickly become observant of their external environment. Others must be lead to observe their environments more critically. "You have to learn to see. If you draw what you see, rather than what you remember, your drawings will improve.”
"We will start with a warm up just like athletes do. No artist just starts drawing a composition on a sheet of paper.” The children look at one another, wondering what is coming next. These children have never had any formal training in drawing or painting. This is the first time they have heard anything about learning to draw. They came in with the mistaken knowledge that some people can draw, and others can’t. "Anyone who can tie a shoe lace can learn to draw, and draw well,” I would declare. This was a stunning revelation to them. Most couldn’t believe what they were hearing. "Anyone can learn to draw,” one would ask? "Yes. Shall we prove it?” They were motivated, and ready to try.
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CHILDREN AND ART: THEY GO TOGETHER
With the education system getting tougher and tougher with each passing day, finding a balance between music and homework for a kid is a pretty tricky affair. If you think about it, the amount of time you used to get as kids after school and homework has reduced to about one third for the kids today. That is why it becomes an expert’s job to plan out the days schedule for the kid to allow him to get enough of both worlds.
However, it doesn’t mean one has to appoint nannies or governesses to manage your kid’s time and activities. Any well-educated and smart parent can do it with ease by just paying some attention to kid’s daily activities. After all, who can understand the need of a kid more than his parents? So, devise out a strategy so that the kid has some time to listen to kids personalized music as well as complete his homework.
Become an Active and Supportive Parent
A kid’s brain is like wet clay which you can shape for the betterment with your love and support. As a parent, it is one’s responsibility to look for overall growth of the kid which includes right from his studies to extra curricular activities and play along with introducing music and dance as well.
So, be your kid’s best friend and make sure that his childhood is not lost in only one thing. Be as active as possible and help the kid with his homework and choose some nice personalized kids CDs for his leisure hours. This way the kid can not only get time for his play but also for his studies and spend some qualitative time with music.
It probably started with finger painting
. Then your child started doodling on every stray piece of paper he could find! Even if he never becomes the next Renoir, your school-aged child will benefit greatly from expressing his artistic side in positive ways. Here are some tips for encouraging your child’s interest in art.
Learn About Developing Your Child’s Talents
Don’t be put off just because you feel as if you have no artistic talent yourself: remember that every person is different and your child’s talents may be very different from your own. Find out everything you can about different artists. Buy books about famous artists and talk about their lives with your kids.
When you think your child is old enough to obey the rules, take him to local museums so that he can see different genres with his own eyes. Your university or community art museum probably hosts programs geared specifically toward children: take advantage of these wonderful opportunities and get your child involved.
Set Aside an “Artist’s Corner” in Your Home
If space allows give your child a little corner in your home that he can call his own, where he can paint or draw or sculpt with clay without worrying about making a mess. Make sure you provide him with different types of art sets that he can experiment with: watercolors, acrylics, and even oils when he is older. Although many non-artistic parents may only think of art in terms of paint, remember that there are other media that your child may enjoy: clay, pencils, charcoal, chalk, as well as pen and ink.
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Encouraging Your Child’s Interest In Art: A Guide For Non-artistic Parents