George Lucas Educational Foundation

Why Art Education Must be Saved

Why Art Education Must be Saved

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There was a recent article by Lynda Resnik in The Huffington Post on the arts in education.

Here's an excerpt:

"Studies show that art-centered schools outscore non-art-centered schools in academic achievement scores. Art education can actually help the brain to rewire itself, to make stronger and more plentiful neural connections, and can help build memory skills. Self-discipline, intuition, reasoning, imagination, and dexterity are just a few of the other benefits of an art-filled education, especially for primary school students. According to First Lady Michelle Obama, "Learning through the arts reinforces critical academic skills in reading, language arts, and math, and provides students with the skills to creatively solve problems."

So, how is it that, when it comes to art education, California comes in dead last out of all 50 states - even below Guam? According to State Councilman Bobby Shriver, California's public schools no longer even offer arts education.

Edutopia also has a detailed package on saving the arts, which includes resources, articles, and videos.

How do you make the case for arts education to be saved in your school? Please share your resources here.

This post was created by a member of Edutopia's community. If you have your own #eduawesome tips, strategies, and ideas for improving education, share them with us.

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Carol Parker's picture
Carol Parker
7/8 Drama, Film, Honors & Regular Language Arts

THANK YOU CHRISTINE, I have been thinking of YOU in particular all day today struggling to teach my students about (and wishing they knew who) LENA HORNE was.....much less Coltrane and other musicians.....I mentioned that a beautiful and significant ACTRESS of the Civil Rights movement had died...So many important people have touched and changed their lives and they do not even realize the significane of how acting, singing and dancing has made a huge impact on all Americas life through Musical Theatre!

Thank you so much for your words of encouragement. I am trying now to plan a way for someone, anyone to drive to my campus, east, east, east of LA and bring anything cultural and then get it passed through Leadership.

I read all that is posted here and take it to heart. I recently had the students drawing the Italian Renaissance and the French Impressionists. The work was absolutely beyond comprehension. Even the students did not realize how talented they are. When I asked to display it, there was only negative feedback. We do not have anyplace for large pieces of art to be displayed. I encourage the students to take art in HS. But, learning all that they learn and having no where to reveal their heart and soul is very frustrating.

It would be great for all of us to meet and have a workshop with Artists, Museum Directors, Politicians, Teachers to inspire,and help enforce the dream for all children to have music and art daily so that Education is a JOY. I am seeing more and more depression in children and too much time spent on electronc toys and none spent reading, interacting and having any fun.

Do children build sand castles, or finger paint, or draw chalk figures on the sidewalk? I am having my students read The Witch of Blackbird Pond.....perhaps I will have them turn in an artistic assignment to enhance their written essays. That way they could learn about New England life, while living out here in sunny casual surfs up California!

Thank you all again. I will follow up with the Met Museum suggestion.

Craig M. Cortello's picture

Here are some of the resources that I've developed for music education advocacy, mostly based on my personal experience and the research conducted for my book "Everything We Needed to Know About Business, We Learned Playing Music."

"FROM THE BAND ROOM TO THE BOARDROOM...The 9 Common Lessons of Music Education That Translate into Success"

"Why Music Education Continues to Lose the Funding Battle"

"Letter to The Aspen Institute's Commission on No Child Left Behind"

Best of luck in all creative endeavors!

monika hardy's picture
monika hardy
facilitating our district innovation lab, all ages learning per passion

The case is clearly laid out in The Element by Sir Ken Robinson.

Caitlin Casement's picture

Arts provide a connection to school that is invaluable for students who feel that school is a hostile environment. For many kids who may have disabilities or other issues that make them feel unsuccessful in school, learning through the arts can help them feel that school speaks to them in a way that other disciplines do not. I was a kid who didn't fit in socially, and I had undiagnosed ADD, so school was a minefield for me. Through drama classes, I found a way to stay connected to school and feel like I had a place there. Ultimately, I found that college provided me with the flexibility I needed in order to be a successful student. As a teacher, I have worked with many kids who have had trouble finding a place in school -- whether because they were ELs or GLBT or learning disabled. I have seen first-hand how they need a chance to find something that they can have success at, something that captures their imaginations, something that allows them to work diligently without fear of failure, so they can get some sense of their own capabilities and resources. If it weren't for the arts, what would happen to these students? They'd probably drop out. And if we aren't sure of this, we can only look at the pathetic graduation rates of districts where the arts have been pared down or eliminated to see the truth of the matter.

Christine Termini Passarella's picture
Christine Termini Passarella
Founder of The Kids for Coltrane Project in Education

It is truly uplifting reading all of this evidence which is shining a light on how teaching through the arts and developing deeper thinking go hand in hand. Bravo to this community!! I have been teaching through the arts from the very beginning of my career to this very day. Yes, you can develop deep thinking through other disciplines, but there is something so deeply human, so incredibly powerful to young learners which thinking and learning through the arts can provide. Perhaps it is the humanity in the work that draws in the young mind to want to learn, to want to explore, to bring their own thinking into play. I have witnessed the magnificence of teaching through the arts and it cannot be denied. I recommend to this community the work of Shari Tishman who is a leader at Harvard's Project Zero. Here is a site which involves her work that I think you may find valuable.

"Works of art are designed to invite exploration, to engage, to beckon, to provoke. They offer rich rewards to those who make an effort understand them, and, through the process of understanding, make the structure and power of higher-level thinking particularly visible." Shari Tishman and Debra Wise

malcolm bellamy's picture
malcolm bellamy
Teaching and Learning Consultant in Southend, Essex, U.K.

I think that Christine is right.. the arts are about our humanity. If we look back into our distant past we will see the role that art (the cave paintings for example) and music (the universal language passed down through the generations)and of course drama (look at the amphitheatres of ancient Greece). We cannot neglect the arts because they are a part of us and now there is compelling evidence that they actually help our brain make connections that gives us skills in creative thinking and problem solving that we so desperately need in the world we are in now with its many economic and social problems.
As I said in a recent blog posting I will always remember a great conductor at a Proms concert in London saying, at the end of the famous "Last Night" in the Albert Hall, "we neglect the arts at our peril!" We certainly do.

Carol Parker's picture
Carol Parker
7/8 Drama, Film, Honors & Regular Language Arts

My principal and I were discussing next year and it seems there may not be any more room in the schedule for my class. This means there will no longer be an Arts class in the Jr. High. There will not be painting, drawing and learning about the History and Appreciation of TV, Radio and Film. I also teach Public Speaking and Speech Acquisition. I have watched my right brained children succeed in a world where they never knew they could be a success. I have watched their eyes open and their minds explode viewing films from all over the world. Once again we are cutting the arts because we do not have room for an elective, and California remains at the bottom of all 50 states. The Music teacher who is my colleague still remains fortunate to maintain his job of teaching only a small percentage of very lucky children. But, few students ever know the joy of holding an instrument and playing together the beauty of music. And, even fewer will know the magic of the silver screen unless it is a video game or an X-Box.

Jennifer D's picture

I am going to have a bulletin board set up when we start the new school year singing the praise of art in education. Thank you all for the work you do. I will use many of your ideas in showing our district why we need to keep our arts program going.

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