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Arts in Education Equals Better Grades, Happier Kids

Studies show that the arts improve students’ abilities to conceptualize, problem-solve and retain information

Published online: Aug 08, 2019 Articles, Education And Arts
Viewed 2449 time(s)

I don’t know about you, but recently, I have been seeing a whole slew of articles come across my social media about how important the arts are in education.

Titles of these articles include: “Struggling Kids Retain More Science if they Rap, Dance, Draw It,” “Why Arts Education Is Crucial,” and “Who's Doing It Best.” Of course, having my teaching degree within the arts, I already know this. This is not news to me. What I do find interesting and somewhat aggravating, however, is that there is a huge push for girls to be interested in STEM activities, but yet boys are not pushed into the ARTS activities. Why are we, as a society, not pushing all of our children in the direction of STEAM activities? Math is everywhere -- this I know. Same for history, grammar, physics, science, language, and yes… the arts. So, why can we not give just as much attention to the importance of the arts in education as we do to math and science…and athletics?

Let’s take music and dance for example in relation to mathematics. The very basis of math is numbers and patterns. Music and dance are no exceptions! Both dance and music involve counting, dividing, fractions, patterns, and defining a rhythm or multiple rhythms. It is resolving harmonies or dance moves and knowing various ways to execute notes and movement.

I, myself, am not a musician, but I can tell you it has its own language with its different terms and vocabulary. As a dancer, I have a joke that I like to use: “I am not a mathematician, but I can count to 8 starting with 5,6,7.” In all honesty, as a choreographer, I use math all of the time. My brain has to divide, multiply, add and subtract with every phrase of the music. I use patterns and interruptions of patterns. I use geography with formations of the dancers. While in school, my dancing (and figure skating) helped me understand and (dare I say) enjoy physics. It became real and applicable to my life.

Perhaps you can see the relevance of music and dance… but what about drama and visual art in education? Drama is working together with an entire cast and crew to put together an entire production. It is learning spatial awareness, speaking skills, thought process, language, social skills, teamwork, technical applications, problem-solving and history. More often than not, there are history lessons within any play or musical. The setting of the story is usually set in a time period when a significant event happened. Actors need to know what life was like for their character during that time. They need to know the who, what, why, when, where, and how of the time and place in which the play or musical takes place.

The skills learned through the dramatic arts are vital to career training today. Visual art is just as crucial. So much of Art has a place in History. It is about creativity, patterns and spatial awareness—yet again. It is even about chemistry and more recently technology and coding.

With an art degree, graduates have a choice of multiple career paths: they can become marketing geniuses, animators, museum curators, fashion designers, set designers, interior designers, teachers and more. Those of us in the arts who CHOOSE to teach do it because we want to share our passion and watch the growth that happens in our students through the arts. We have such a love and excitement for it that we want to see all that kids can accomplish because of the skills they learn through arts education. The commitment, dedication and determination students need in the arts is enough to warrant arts programs in every school as core subjects.

Research shows just how beneficial the arts are to learning and to retaining information, yet most arts budgets in schools are slashed or completely eliminated altogether. The Idaho Falls Youth Arts Centre knows there is a need in this community for the arts. We also recognize the huge pool of talent in this area needing opportunities to grow. We offer a strings program, choir, theater camps and the centre's Fall Musical.

We are also working on a dance program but that is rather hard to do without a building of our own. We are hoping to acquire a space within the next few years. Can you imagine what could be offered if we had our own space? We could have regular dance classes for all ages in various genres. We could have acting classes. We could do radio plays on a regular basis, offer costume design and sewing classes and set design/build classes. We could do small cast shows throughout the year, and maybe even have a traveling performance troupe.

IFYAC is meeting many of the needs in this area without a building of our own, but the possibilities are endless once we get that facility.

If you are interested in helping your student excel in school and in life, or if you are interested in partnering with us to bring more opportunities to the youth and young at heart in our community, please visit us online at ifyac.org or contact us at info@ifyac.org.

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