Artzy, Schmartzy: Why should we care?

Dec 30, 2012   //   Academics, Blog

by Kathryn Wage

Since the 1980s the availability of art education (music and visual arts) in schools has been on the decline. Continuing tight budgets have made it difficult to reinstate art education programs once they have been cut. Statistics show that most often the cuts are made in schools where there are more minority children.

Cutting the arts may seem like the least essential piece of education and the easiest to cut when compared to the basics, but what are we losing when we make these cuts? It turns out that we are losing essential skills that make all learning easier and later life more successful.

Studies have shown that high school students who participate in art programs are more likely to meet or exceed the national average in the ACT Plan national composite score. These same students excelled in statewide tests, earning proficient levels in math, reading and writing. This increased achievement is not a coincidence. There is research which supports the art education as a positive force in 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 socioeconomic backgrounds were twice as likely to 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. If you are thinking about helping a child who is struggling in learning, consider adding the arts to help make education more successful.

From How the Arts Can Help Students Excel, December 11, 2012, Science of Learning Blog

Center For Communication Skills, Speech & Language Pathologists, Fresno, CA