Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Making the Case for Fine Arts in The Classroom Part 2

     Today in staff development at school we started our new Dallas ISD book study of Teaching With Poverty in Mind by Eric Jensen.   We read an introduction and watched a few videos, and the book looks like it has some solid, practical ideas for improving our teaching.  There was a brief mention of the power of the Fine Arts to help engage at-risk students and increase their overall performance in school, and while I yelled a big "Amen!" at that point, it's really old news to the thousands of art, music, dance, and theater teachers out there.  I've discussed this topic before ( but thought I'd share this list I made years ago summarizing studies about participating in music (I'm a musician as well as a visual artist.)  There's many more studies out there, some of which focus on particular disciplines (visual art, music, theater, dance, etc.) and others that look at the broader impact of the Fine Arts in general.  No matter what study you look at, they all seem to come to the same conclusion: studying Fine Arts helps kids learn!  This is why I get so frustrated when looking at the extremely limited time that I have to work with students in my art or music classes.  I'm trying to keep a positive mindset and hope that even the small amount of time I can give them will pay off with huge dividends down the road.

   Here's my list (feel free to add more in the comments section if you have them):

1.       In a 2000 survey, 73 percent of respondents agree that teens who play an instrument are less likely to have discipline problems.
- Americans Love Making Music – And Value Music Education More Highly Than Ever, American Music Conference, 2000.
2.     Students who can perform complex rhythms can also make faster and more precise corrections in many academic and physical situations, according to the Center for Timing, Coordination, and Motor Skills.
- Rhythm seen as key to music’s evolutionary role in human intellectual development, Center for Timing, Coordination, and Motor Skills, 2000.
3.    A ten-year study indicates that students who study music achieve higher test scores, regardless of socioeconomic background.
- Dr. James Catterall, UCLA.
4.    A 1997 study of elementary students in an arts-based program concluded that students’ math test scores rose as their time in arts education classes increased.
- “Arts Exposure and Class Performance,” Phi Delta Kappan, October, 1998.
5.    First-grade students who had daily music instruction scored higher on creativity tests than a control group without music instruction.
- K.L. Wolff, The Effects of General Music Education on the Academeic Achievement, Perceptual-Motor Development, Creative Thinking, and School Attendance of First-Grade Children, 1992.
6.    In a Scottish study, one group of elementary students received musical training, while another other group received an equal amount of discussion skills training. After six (6) months, the students in the music group achieved a significant increase in reading test scores, while the reading test scores of the discussion skills group did not change.
- Sheila Douglas and Peter Willatts, Journal of Research in Reading, 1994.
7.    According to a 1991 study, students in schools with arts-focused curriculums reported significantly more positive perceptions about their academic abilities than students in a comparison group.
- Pamela Aschbacher and Joan Herman, The Humanitas Program Evaluation, 1991.
8.    Students who are rhythmically skilled also tend to better plan, sequence, and coordinate actions in their daily lives.
- “Cassily Column,” TCAMS Professional Resource Center, 2000.
9.    In a 1999 Columbia University study, students in the arts are found to be more cooperative with teachers and peers, more self-confident, and better able to express their ideas. These benefits exist across socioeconomic levels.
- The Arts Education Partnership, 1999.
10.  College admissions officers continue to cite participation in music as an important factor in making admissions decisions. They claim that music participation demonstrates time management, creativity, expression, and open mindedness.
- Carl Hartman, “Arts May Improve Students’ Grades,” The Associated Press, October, 1999.

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