As schools systematically do away with music and art courses, one has to wonder, "Are the arts important in education?"
Visit any Charlotte Mason-related website or blog and you're certain to come across information about the arts. Artist studies, art studies, art lessons, composers and their compositions abound on these sites.
In fact, it's not only Charlotte Mason educators who believe that the arts are an important part of education.
According to the results of a June 2005 Harris Poll,
- 86% of the Americans surveyed believed that the arts are important and should be taught in schools;
- 79% believe that schools do not provide enough education in the arts; and
- 93% consider the arts to be essential to a well-rounded education.
Are the arts really that important in our children's education?
There is a connection between academic achievement and arts education.
In a time when schools are doing away with music, art, drama and other forms of art so that money can be funneled towards towards math and reading, one may conclude that the arts must not be important.
Research has shown us the opposite is true.
Nationwide, research conducted by universities, associations and foundations have suggested that there is a positive relationship between the arts and academic success.
The College Review Board reports that in 2004, high school students who took classes in the arts scored consistently better than peers not involved in the arts.
For example, students who took music history or music appreciation courses scored an average of 63 points higher on the verbal section of the SAT and an average of 41 points higher in the math section. Similarly, students involved in drama, art appreciation and studio scored significantly higher than non-arts peers.
The research compendium, Critical Links, contains a very diverse collection of studies that explore the links between the arts and academic achievement. In this collection, more than 65 distinct relationships between the arts and academic and social outcomes.
How the arts help academic and social achievement.
There are several logical reasons for increased academic and social achievement among those participating in the arts. Here are just a few of those links:
- The arts empower children to communicate. Not all things can be adequately communicated with words. Expressing themselves through music, sculpture, drawing and other forms of art, allows children to communicate their ideas.
- The arts teach acceptance. The arts provide opportunities to explore different cultures and time periods. This increased understanding of the world builds stronger social skills.
- The arts teach flexibility in thinking. There can be more than one "right" answer. This is an important skill in learning as well as building strong social and business skills.
- The arts teach students to continually search for understanding. There is always something more to be learned.
The arts stimulate our mind and heart, making us feel more alive. They elicit emotions; they enhance and help develop thinking abilities. The evidence shows that they are fundamental to education. The arts should be treated, not as extracurricular or disposable activities, but a core part of a child's education.
Do you include the arts in your homeschool education? If so, what form(s) of the arts? If you have not incorporated the arts into your education plan, has this given you something new to consider? Please share your comments!