Yesterday I attended the first day of the Dalat Fine Arts Festival at Penang PAC and was absolutely amazed at how gifted our students are. I sat down to write about this in my article for the Dalat News but then remembered that last year I was pretty amazed as well. I went back and found that I did write about the Fine Arts Festival last year. I started to write about something else but then decided the stuff I said last year is still true and is important enough to be repeated. So here is what I wrote about last year on why the arts are such an important part of a good education.
An education in the arts (performance and visual) is a crucial part of the development and growth of each child. The study of the arts is integral to our society and culture as it is art that connects deeply with what makes us human and helps to complete us as people. There is a universal need for words, music, dance, and visual art to give expression to the innate urgings of the human spirit. (Eisner, 1987) The benefits of a fine arts education are so numerous that it would take many pages to just scratch the surface, but I do want to mention just a few:
Study after scientific study has shown that participation in the fine arts improves learning in all academic areas. Mr. Mahoney often makes the statement “it is not smart people that take band, but that band makes smart people.” This is not just the ramblings of a music teacher :-) but has been corroborated scientifically and documented in numerous ways. In a study conducted by Judith Burton, Columbia University, research evidenced that subjects such as mathematics, science, and language require complex cognitive and creative capacities “typical of arts learning” (Burton, Horowitz, & Abeles, 1999). “The arts enhance the process of learning. The systems they nourish. . . are, in fact, the driving forces behind all other learning” (Jensen, 2001).
There are “non-academic” benefits like self-esteem, motivation, aesthetic awareness, cultural exposure, creativity, improved emotional expression, fostering a love for learning, development of self-discipline, as well as social harmony and appreciation of diversity. (Bryant, 2012)
The Burton study of more than 2,000 children found that those in the arts curriculum were far superior in creative thinking, self-concept, problem-solving, self-expression, risk-taking, and cooperation than those who were not. (Burton et al., 1999)
The arts cannot be learned through random or sporadic involvement and must be an important part of the school’s curriculum and considered a vital component of the educational experience. Dalat believes wholeheartedly in this as seen in the middle school curriculum and the many different offerings available to our HS students (music theory, foundational art through AP art, drama and forensics, choir, band, jazz band, music history classes, etc.). The Fine Arts Festival is a chance for us as a community to see just how impressive our students are and the positive impact art is having on their lives. The festival continues tonight with the HS concerts (4 and 7 p.m.) and the drama performances on Saturday (2 and 7 p.m.). If you have not gotten tickets already, try to come and I promise you too will be amazed.