Learning through the arts.
Arts education in schools often serves as the bright spot in the child’s day or week, and represents a time that encourages experimentation with colour, beauty and joy – all of which are not focused solely on testing or performance.
Paul Sowden, a Psychology professor at the University of Winchester in England, believes arts education should be available equally to everyone due to its ability to encourage resilience and determination, as well as the mastery of many complex skills.
“Music, drama, dance, design, visual arts… You’re looking for opportunities in the arts education content to encourage children to ask questions, to use their imaginations, but also to approach their work in a systematic, disciplined way,” Dr Sowden says.
When children are younger, especially in their ‘Incredible Years’, arts education helps to develop their ability for collaboration, elaboration and creativity, and even the ability to ask meaningful questions. As children get older, they are more prepared to complete tasks, pay attention and engage with their curriculum. Arts education also offers the chance to polish a skill over time or continue working on assessments and projects until they are as good as they can be.
A professor at the John’s Hopkins School of Education has stated that a lot of the information children are taught in school often doesn’t stick. However, when arts were integrated into the same curriculum, Professor Mariale Hardiman said that “learning became more visible”, and children were able to retain information better.
The integration of arts education into the lives of young people can have dramatic improvements on a number of core skills. Memory is shown to be enhanced through arts education, as is the ability to elaborate and explain processes, as well as work successfully without external stimulation.
The regular curriculum-based structure is important, says Dr Ronald Beghetto, a professor of Educational Psychology at the University of Connecticut, but so too is the ability to determine the solution to problems on one’s own. Arts education allows children to “determine their own problems to solve, as well as their own ways to solve them.”
If you would like to read more about the role of arts education in the development of children, I really recommend checking out this article.
Source: Klass, P (2019). Using Arts Education To Help Other Lessons Stick. The New York Times.