Dance, music and theater programs may make frequent appearances on school budget-cut lists, but eliminating the performing arts from education could have costly effects for students. A 2012 report by the U.S. Department of Education revealed a significant drop in the availability of performing arts programs compared to a decade ago, reports the National Education Association. The performing arts not only provide opportunities for students to develop creative passions but also teach communication, language and leadership in unique ways that inspire individualism.
Making Students Self-Aware
Participating in performing-arts programs helps students develop a stronger sense of individualism, self-reflection and self-esteem. Participating in these activities helps them learn to commit to a task; prepare themselves emotionally, physically and mentally; and work toward the goals of mastering and sharing their skills. For example, musicians must commit to an individual practice schedule to aim for a successful concert, while actors must tap into the particular experiences of their characters to achieve a realistic performance onstage. As they engage with these skills, students learn to critique their abilities, recognize their strengths and weaknesses and make plans to acquire new skills.
Improving Academic Performance
Students who work individually to hone their performance skills ultimately reap the benefits of better grades and test scores. Students who participate in arts programs are more likely to take advanced math courses, graduate from high school and go on to college than those who don't, summarizes a 2012 report by the National Endowment for the Arts. Similarly, the organization Americans for the Arts reports that in 2012 students who took four years of performing arts courses in high school scored 100 points better than students who took less or no courses.
Strengthening School Community
The strong sense of individuality and high level of achievement associated with performing-arts education ultimately affects students' relationships to the school as a whole. Involvement with theater, music and dance creates strong relationships between students, teachers and advisers, reinforcing their identity within their educational community. Collaborating with other students in artistic settings can also provide opportunities to encounter different cultures by working with different types of music or plays of different subject matters. This can help students build higher levels of tolerance and understanding for others and become more willing to work with people who are different from them.
Preparing for Future Careers
While not all students involved with the performing arts may plan to pursue them professionally, the Arts Education Partnership states that participating in dramatic and musical programs can help them develop skills that are a growing necessity in the 21st-century workplace. Participation in the arts inspires greater creativity -- an increasingly valued skill in work environments; working with others as part of a music ensemble or cast of a play can create stronger communication and teamwork skills. In addition, the strong sense of individualism the performing arts inspires can help students grow up to be stronger career leaders.
- North Carolina Public Schools: Arts Education and 21st Century Skills in North Carolina
- California County Superintendents Educational Services Association: The Visual and Performing Arts Core Principles
- National Endowment for the Arts: The Arts and Achievement in At-Risk Youth
- Americans for the Arts: Arts Students Outperform Non-Arts Students on SAT
- Arts Eduation Partnership: Preparing Students for the Next America
- Glendale Unified School District California: Visual and Performing Arts
- NEA Today: The Good and Bad News About Arts Education in US Schools
Kori Morgan holds a Bachelor of Arts in professional writing and a Master of Fine Arts in creative writing and has been crafting online and print educational materials since 2006. She taught creative writing and composition at West Virginia University and the University of Akron and her fiction, poetry and essays have appeared in numerous literary journals.