Fine arts in our public schools are a vital part of providing students with a well-rounded education. From improving vocabulary and test scores, to increasing learning experiences in communication and leadership, arts education plays a vital role in preparing students for success in career and personal life.
The Arts and Standardized Testing
Although there have been diverse studies that provide statistics regarding the link between high test scores and arts education, there are some common-sense conclusions to be drawn from arts education as well. Whether a student is enrolled in music, art or theater, any fine arts student will tell you that there is a vocabulary unique to his chosen discipline. A beginning fine arts student can be expected to learn 70-100 new words in order simply to participate in a new discipline. Increased vocabulary generally leads to higher standardized test scores. In fact, according to the National Assemblies of State Arts Agencies, SAT scores improve dramatically the longer students are enrolled in arts education.
Arts and the General Curriculum
In an article published by Fran Smith of Edutopia, the author cites gains in the critical learning areas of math, reading, cognitive ability, critical thinking, and verbal skill. This should not come as a surprise, since countless studies have provided quantifiable gains among students who are involved in arts education. A notable study performed by the Arts Education Partnership in 2002 gathered data from these studies and proved that arts students were better than their counterparts at staying motivated to achieve, had improved social skills and noticeably better test scores.
Students involved in fine arts programs tend to use their time wisely. To help make time for their arts activities, many students involved fine arts watch less TV, play fewer video games, and participate in service oriented activities that complement and enhance their experiences in the fine arts. Their involvement in arts activities help them to be able to speak intelligently on subjects that are important to them, and helps them to interact with diverse groups of individuals who come from different personal circumstances and who have different personality types. Their ability to work within a diverse group toward a common goal gives them valuable life experience that helps them to be successful working with people and problem solving in their future careers.
Leaders in the Making
When a student has been involved in fine arts for a year or more, she is typically given the opportunity to be a student leader, which helps develop the skills of communicating with team members and acting as a liaison to the sponsors or parent groups. Student leaders also often have the opportunity to make presentations to other student groups, administrators and the community as a whole. Even those who do not opt for formal leadership within their arts organizations have opportunities to serve in a leadership role for group projects and presentations, sometimes on a daily basis in classes.
- Deasy, Richard J. (editor) (2002), Critical Links: Learning in the Arts and Student
- Catterall, James S. (2002), “Involvement in the Arts and Success in Secondary School.”
- Online Colleges: 10 Salient Studies on the Arts in Education
Megan Eyden has been an educator, trainer and teaching mentor for eight years. Her articles and reviews on the arts have been published in journals and bulletins in Texas. Eyden also works as a performance coach, clinician, contest judge, vocal soloist and accompanist.