Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Taking a Test With...The Arts?

I believe with all my heart the following statement: The arts and arts education are an integral, imperative part of a school.

For years now schools have been jettisoning their arts programs in favor of focusing on The Test and classes to prep for it, writing the arts off an expense that does not add value to the school.  Nevermind the following assertions by multiple groups advocating increased presence of the arts in schools:

Benefits of Arts EducationSource: Americans for the Arts, 2002
  • Stimulates and develops the imagination and critical thinking, and refines cognitive and creative skills.
  • Has a tremendous impact on the developmental growth of every child and has proven to help level the "learning field" across socio-economic boundaries.
  • Strengthens problem-solving and critical-thinking skills, adding to overall academic achievement and school success.
  • Develops a sense of craftsmanship, quality task performance, and goal-setting—skills needed to succeed in the classroom and beyond.
  • Teaches children life skills such as developing an informed perception; articulating a vision; learning to solve problems and make decisions; building self-confidence and self-discipline; developing the ability to imagine what might be; and accepting responsibility to complete tasks from start to finish.
  • Nurtures important values, including team-building skills; respecting alternative viewpoints; and appreciating and being aware of different cultures and traditions.
Source: Young Children and the Arts: Making Creative Connections, 1998, Introduction
  • Plays a central role in cognitive, motor, language, and social-emotional development.
  • Motivates and engages children in learning, stimulates memory, facilitates understanding, enhances symbolic communication, promotes relationships, and provides an avenue for building competence.
  • Provides a natural source of learning. Child development specialists note that play is the business of young children; play is the way children promote and enhance their development. The arts are a most natural vehicle for play.

Well, now there is additional research that proves the art-axers wrong; not only do the arts enrich the lives of students on an aesthetic and emotional level, they also raise test scores on The Test without any additional emphasis on skill-and-drill.

Sounds like plenty of added value to me.

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