By Molly Braswell
Learning and Interpretation Assistant
I was inspired to write the inaugural post of our newest blog series, Why Art Matters (WAM), by a visit to museum’s Youth Art Month (YAM) exhibition. (Plus, WAM and YAM rhyme, and that’s fun.) Over 100 Maine students, from kindergarten through twelfth grade, have their artwork displayed on the PMA’s fourth floor…and it’s incredible.
So why does art matter in school? What do students gain from being exposed to the arts at an early age?
There are a lot of studies and explanations for how art can benefit students; however, the reasoning and rationale doesn’t always have to be scientific to prove meaningful. Students who take art classes, or who are involved in school plays or band, could be influenced in different, positive ways. Not everyone will take an art class and want to grow up to become an artist, but it’s clear that the skills and thought processes explored through the arts can be beneficial down the road.
There are actually a LOT of great things that art can do for students of all ages. Here are just a few of them:
● Students’ exposure to the arts–including drama, music, and dance–often leads to improvement in math, writing, and reading.
● Art education is related to: higher test scores, higher attendance rates, higher graduation rates, and lower disciplinary rates.
● Art education improves students’ abilities to problem-solve and to make decisions–teaching children that problems can have more than one solution and that questions can have more than one answer. It also shows children 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.
● The arts help build confidence and expose students to other cultures, ideas, and points of view. One of the large lessons in art is that there are many ways to see and interpret the world.
● Art teaches students to think in ways that aren’t always addressed in other classes like how to observe, innovate, self-reflect, improve, and evaluate.
● Arts integrated curriculum can increase students’ motivation and collaboration, and create a sense of community in the classroom.
Do you have positive memories of art in school? Do you think that it’s important that the arts be a part of current K-12 curriculum?
If you are looking for more, check out these articles:
“Study: Arts education has academic effect,” by Tamara Henry, USA Today
“Neuroeducation: Learning, Arts, and the Brain: Findings and Challenges for Educators and Researchers from the 2009 Johns Hopkins University Summit” by Mariale Hardiman, Ed.D., Susan Magsamen, Guy McKhann, M.D., and Janet Eilber
“Art for our sake: School arts classes matter more than ever–but not for the reasons you think” by Ellen Winner and Lois Hetland, The Boston Globe
“Renaissance in the Classroom,” Edited by Gail Burnaford, Arnold Aprill, and Cynthia Weiss, Harvard Business Review