Justifying Arts in Curriculum
Teachers and administrators are often asked to justify the arts as part of a school's curriculum. Below are a few examples of research and findings on arts education I find interesting. I am always encouraged when I see documentation showing how important creativity, community building, courtesy, and music and dance skills are, and it seems that more comes out all the time. Please feel free to add to my collection! Email me with any ideas you have.
A 12 year national study of education in visual and performing arts by UCLA Professor of Education James S. Catterall states that, "Students who proceed through arts-rich schools have better outcomes in both academic and social arenas than students who attend arts-poor, or arts-barren high schools. Intensive involvement in the arts during middle and high school associates with higher levels of achievement and college attainment, and also with many indications of pro-social behavior such as voluntarism and political participation."
Cutting school arts programs in an effort to boost student academic achievement will be counterproductive, a new analysis of research studies suggests, and may be particularly damaging to young children and students from economically disadvantaged circumstances.
Third grade students learn to sing folk songs before playing autoharp at McCabe School in Mendota, CA.
The activities in Evo Bluestein's music and dance program for younger students, help with phonemics--the understanding that the sounds of spoken language work together to make words. Children who have phonemic awareness skills are likely to have an easier time learning to read than children who have few or none of these skills.
Activities for all grade levels affect development of the vestibular system. Knowing where one is in space is the core ingredient of body concept, and some authorities insist that vestibular awareness of one's self in space is the basis for consciousness. One could write pages about the relationship of the vestibular system to other systems. For example, the auditory system (hearing) also has its receptors in the inner ear. Therefore it is not surprising that deficits in hearing are very frequently accompanied by over or under-sensitivity in the vestibular receptors.
Students make up a dance motion in a traditional African-American dance.
What Is Folk? from "Poplore" (U. Mass. Press) by Gene Bluestein, professor, California State University, Fresno
Who has not seen children expressing themselves poetically, dancing freely, singing their own tunes, filling pages with intriguing illustrations? But it is equally true that after five or ten years of education, students cannot read or write effectively, cannot draw and cringe at the thought that someone might ask them to sing or dance. Most Americans see these latter arts, among the elemental human capabilities, as cruel punishments when demanded in public. It is amazing that the inherited skills of humanity can survive at all under a school regimen that persistently treats practice in the arts as a frill easily eliminated from the curriculum. The need to be creative then finds outlets in noneducational areas and in subjects never taught in schools.....as a protest against a culture that finds no acceptable place for human creativity.
Dance Residency in Martinez, CA
Singing: The Key to a Long Life, from composer Brian Eno