"The study found that students in the program performed better in six categories of literacy and critical thinking skills – including thorough description, hypothesizing and reasoning – than did students who were not in the program" (The New York Times). The Guggenheim admits that they do not know exactly how art helps literacy skills but, "the hypothesis is that the use of both talking about art and using inquiry to help students tease apart the meaning of paintings helps them learn how to tease apart the meanings of texts, too. They apply those skills to reading" (Johanna Jones).
Art helps children to "think outside the box" and instead of an inarguable set of rules, art encourages imagination and experimentation. Everything is a choice, from what media to use to how to use it. Should this line be thick or thin; should I use green or blue?
In a ten-year national study by Shirley Brice Heath of Stanford University, it was discovered that young people who are involved in highly effective non-school arts-based community programs in under-resourced communities, in comparison with a national sample of students were:
- Four times more likely to win an academic award, such as being on the honor roll.
- Eight times more likely to receive a community service award.
- Three times more likely to win a school attendance award.
- Four times more likely to participate in a math or science fair.
- Likely to score higher on their SAT college admission test scores if they have been involved for more than four years of after-school arts study.
Although we often push art to the backburner, and focus on the importance of math and reading in our children's educations, art is an indisputable asset to the growth and development of children academically, emotionally, and socially. The most important thing to remember is that you cannot underestimate the power of your interest, encouragement, and support. It is up to you to supply them with the tools and up to them to choose what to do with them.
According to Elliot Eisner(Lee Jacks Professor of Education, Stanford University), there are 11 key lessons that arts teach.
11 key lessons that arts teach
1. The arts teach children to make good judgments about qualitative relationships. Unlike much of the curriculum in which correct answers and rules prevail, in the arts, it is judgment rather than rules that prevail.
2. The arts teach children that problems can have more than one solution and that questions can have more than one answer.
3. The arts celebrate multiple perspectives. One of their large lessons is that there are many ways to see and interpret the world.
4. The arts teach children that in complex forms of problem solving purposes are seldom fixed, but change with circumstance and opportunity. Learning in the arts requires the ability and a willingness to surrender to the unanticipated possibilities of the work as it unfolds.
5. The arts make vivid the fact that neither words in their literal form nor number exhaust what we can know. The limits of our language do not define the limits of our cognition.
6. The arts teach students that small differences can have large effects.
7. The arts traffic in subtleties.The arts teach students to think through and within a material.
8. All art forms employ some means through which images become real.
9. The arts help children learn to say what cannot be said. When children are invited to disclose what a work of art helps them feel, they must reach into their poetic capacities to find the words that will do the job.
10. The arts enable us to have experience we can have from no other source and through such experience to discover the range and variety of what we are capable of feeling.
11. The arts position in the school curriculum symbolizes to the young what adults believe is important.
Written By: Heather Goldstein