Arts Education and the Benefits of Early Introduction to Children

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on Monday, 28 April 2014 in Blog Posts

artsMuch has been learned about ancient societies by studying human creative endeavors of the past, such as ancient instruments, cave paintings, and architecture.  While fossils and bone fragments can teach us about the biological details of the past, it is yesterday’s artistic creations that help us form an understanding of how past societies functioned.

So, with the clear understanding that the arts contributed so greatly to the development of human society, it’s troubling to witness the push towards limiting arts education, and it’s encouraging to find examples of arts education being valued.

A recent Miami Herald article provides a clear example of how introducing an arts curriculum into a school provides clear and definitive benefits.  The introduction of a music program to North Miami Middle School, in which half the school population has enrolled, has led to a 30% reduction in student behavioral issues.

A common misconception exists that an arts education’s sole benefit is as vocational training.  Clearly, there are many more benefits to an arts education that merely churning out new artists and musicians (as is evident at North Miami Middle School).  The National Art Education Association has provided a list of additional benefits in their “10 Lessons the Arts Teach”:

  1. The arts teach children to make good judgments about qualitative relationships. Unlike much of the curriculum in which correct answers and rules prevail, in the arts, it is judgment rather than rules that prevail.

  2. The arts teach children that problems can have more than one solution and that questions can have more than one answer.

  3. The arts celebrate multiple perspectives. One of their large lessons is that there are many ways to see and interpret the world.

  4. The arts teach children that in complex forms of problem solving purposes are seldom fixed, but change with circumstance and opportunity. Learning in the arts requires the ability and a willingness to surrender to the unanticipated possibilities of the work as it unfolds.

  5. The arts make vivid the fact that neither words in their literal form nor numbers exhaust what we can know. The limits of our language do not define the limits of our cognition.

  6. The arts teach students that small differences can have large effects. The arts traffic in subtleties.

  7. The arts teach students to think through and within a material. All art forms employ some means through which images become real.

  8. The arts help children learn to say what cannot be said. When children are invited to disclose what a work of art helps them feel, they must reach into their poetic capacities to find the words that will do the job.

  9. The arts enable us to have experience we can have from no other source and through such experience to discover the range and variety of what we are capable of feeling.

  10. The arts' position in the school curriculum symbolizes to the young what adults believe is important.

We, as humans, rely on being taught a tremendous amount in order to be part of what recognize as a modern society.  Let’s ensure that we value the teaching of a well-rounded curriculum to today’s students, so that our society has the best change for continued growth and development.

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