The Importance of the Arts in Educating the Whole Child
Former United States Secretary of Education, Richard W. Riley, once said, “I believe arts education in music, theater, dance, and the visual arts is one of the most creative ways we have to find the gold that is buried just beneath the surface. They (children) have an enthusiasm for life a spark of creativity, and vivid imaginations that need training – training that prepares them to become confident young men and women.” I firmly believe that saving the arts in our schools is one of the most important things stakeholders can do for our students and our society. Our goal as educators is to shape the entire child, not just make sure they can read, write, and do arithmetic. We are preparing these children to lead our society and therefore, they must be armed with skills to face the 21st century world. I think saving the arts’ programs in our schools is one of the ways we can help strengthen our students’ 21st century skills.
When we give students the chance to explore the many avenues of the arts, we are in turn helping to encourage them to find or pursue their talents and passions. It also gives them a pathway to explore and foster their creativity. It is important to understand that creativity is not just about aesthetics, but it is also a skill that aids in problem solving. It is imperative that we teach children how to be problem solvers and come up with creative solutions to various problems. This will greatly benefit them when they enter the working world.
Participation and exposure to a strong arts program also helps students improve their communication and collaboration skills. Students learn how to work together to create a product or put on a performance. This teaches them tolerance of differences, patience, and respect which of others. This helps deepen their understanding of others and their feelings. Student also love to talk about things they have created so it gives them an avenue to talk with others about things they’ve created. The arts gives children a different type of media to help shape and disseminate their feelings.
Research has shown that not only can arts education can improve a student’s achievement level in reading and math, but it also increases their critical thinking skills. The arts help students learn to observe, interpret, analyze, and synthesize. It is also a key factor in helping to keep students engaged in school. Many students who may not be motivated by academics, are often motivated by being able to participate in the arts. It has been shown that the arts nurture a motivation to learn by emphasizing active engagement.
The arts also teach children how to persevere which is in my opinion, another needed tool for future leaders of our society to have. The arts teach students how to learn from their mistakes, continue to move forward, and always follow through with a project.
There is no question in mind that if we want our future leaders to be well-rounded individuals, continuing to include the arts’ in our schools is a necessity. It will only enhance our efforts at creating a generation of students who are able to communicate, collaborate, problem solve, think critically, and persevere.