The Benefits of Using Art to Teach Core Subjects in School
“The only source of knowledge is experience” Albert Einstein.
Learning styles vary from human to human. Some must read, others must be shown, but many must experience and relate to a topic in order to understand and retain the information.
Exploring new ways to improve student learning and education has been an increasing focal point in the United States. In an effort to improve education and learning, Congress enacted the Educate America Act, which recognized the arts for the first time in federal policy as an integral element of the core curriculum (Ruppert). This milestone was predicated by research which proves art and its integration into core subjects actually advances students’ test scores in numerous subject areas.
Integrating art to teach core subjects is linked to student improvement in math, reading, cognitive ability, critical thinking, and verbal skills (Smith) .
Art Improves SAT scores
The College Entrance Examination Board reported student scores between 2001 and 2005 and the findings concluded students who participated in theater in school scored an average of 65.5 points higher on the verbal module and 35.5 points higher in the math module of the SAT (Smith). Additionally, students who were involved in theater outscored the national SAT average by 35 points on the verbal module, and 24 points higher on the math module (Smith).
From Infancy We Learned By Performing
The concept behind increased test scores combined with exposure to integrating theater into core curriculum is rather simple. From infancy, we learn by ‘doing’. We are first shown how to do something, but to master our growth and skills, we must perform what we were shown. From sitting up, walking, talking, and to eventually becoming autonomous; we are only successful because we perform and experience the lesson personally. This same theory is applied to school-aged children. If our children were successful in learning through experience prior to school, they can continue this success in learning new topics through the same type of participation during school.
Theaer integration into the core curriculum offers that necessary experience to relate, perform, and retain knowledge. Writing a paper on the civil war is not as effective as having students collaborate to write a play and act it out. The physical act of participating, recalling lines, and forming memories regarding the research and performance are proven to improve not only learning, but understanding. This understanding then benefits students’ retention and testing outcomes. However; the benefits do not stop there.
Students who participate in arts learning experiences often improve their achievements in other realms of learning and life (Ruppert).
Art Improves Life Skills
Aside from the research proving superior testing scores; art integration improves thinking skills such as reasoning ability, insight, perception, creativity, and problem-solving (Ruppert). Providing students with a task that requires involvement, critical thinking, and creation generates fundamental and beneficial thinking skills. Student participation also promotes social skills.
Art integration requiring social interaction boosts students’ self-confidence through gaining talents and skills, conflict resolution when collaborating a plan or play and overall, tolerance of diversity in the student classroom which is working together as a unit (Ruppert). This environment of thinking and socially interacting is also shown to perpetuate students’ motivation to learn.
The emphasis placed on active engagement, and resulting social skills and learning development is a method of teaching that results in students truly looking forward to learning (Ruppert). That is a required ingredient for success; the desire to achieve it.
In summary, our children should learn best in a way that has proven to be successful; through experiencing it. Art integration in common core curriculums proves to be the same type of experience learning that assists in increased academic scores and improved life skills. It is a necessary fuel for student success.
Do You Believe Art Should be Integrated Into Education's Core Curriculum?
Ruppert, Sandra. Critical Evidence: How the Arts Benefits Student Achievment. Publication. District of Columbia: National Assembly of State Arts Agencies, 2006. Electronic Document.
Smith, Fran. Why Arts Education Is Crucial, and Who's Doing It Best. 28 January 2009. Web Page. 10 March 2016.