Arts have shared an important place in educational history due to their ability to teach the necessary skills to succeed in life and enable them to make crucial decisions. Arts also help in developing the self esteem of students and enable them to build self discipline. Arts play a vital role in developing and enhancing the intellectual capacity of students by enabling them to think creatively and providing students with the ability to imagine in addition to accepting responsibility of the completion of their tasks from the beginning to the end. Arts are considered to be vital aspect of learning for the successful completion of education.
Arts contribute substantially to the overall development of students and help to close the achievement gap of students across the socio-economic boundaries by creating a “learning field”. Research confirms that arts is a crucial skill for the future workforce of the country since “the best employers the world over” would be seeking for “the most competent, most creative, and most innovative people on the face of the earth” whom they would be most “willing to pay” “top dollar for their services” (New Commission on the Skills of the American Workforce, 2006).
This paper aims to the role and importance of arts in enabling them to achieve success and strengthening their abilities to perform optimally in other subjects
The learning of arts contributes substantially to the achievement of students in the classroom in all the other subjects including mathematics and reading. Researchers have confirmed the impact of learning music and theater among young students (Center on Education Policy, 2006). It has also been proven that the study of arts contributes positively to the learning of students with disabilities, students who hail from economically disadvantaged surroundings in addition to students who need remedial instructions (Horowitz & Webb-Dempsey, 2003).
Student learning has been well connected with the study of arts through the academic and social benefits achieved by learning arts (Deasy, 2002). The No child Left Behind Act (NCLB) has affirmed the inclusion of arts as an equal with other subjects including reading, math, science, and other “core academic subjects” which contribute substantially to produce and develop enhanced learning outcomes in children (U.S. Department of Education). The learning of arts enables students to enhance their achievements in the academic realm as well as other aspects of life.
Researchers have tested and confirmed that students who were actively involved with arts gave better performances on standardized tests as compared to those students who were relatively less involved with arts (Catterall, 2002). The concept of transfer which proposes that “learning in one context assists learning in a different context” affirms that the learning of arts is highly beneficial to the other subjects and domains which students may find difficult to learn with ease (Catterall, 2002). The positive impact of arts learning on higher SAT scores has been documented by researchers who affirm that students who are enrolled in some form of arts activities have a greater propensity to deliver higher math and verbal SAR scores as compared to the students who have no arts activities (Vaughn and Winner, 2000).
The social development of children and youth is believed to be enhanced through the learning of different art forms such as dance, drama, music, visual arts and multi-arts (Deasy, 2003). Deasy (2002) provides substantial evidence which affirms the “distinct relationship between arts and academic and social outcomes” of students. These associations have been found in the enhanced reading readiness among students of visual arts and the development of conflict resolution skills among students of drama and theatre. Additionally, associations have also been established between non verbal reasoning and traditional dance forms along with the learning of the piano and proficiency in mathematics (Deasy, 2003).
Other positive academic outcomes due to the involvement and participation on arts include efficiency in reading and language skills, math skills, thinking skills, development and enhancement of social skills, the building of motivation in classroom learning and the overall enhancement of the school environment (Deasy, 2002). The art form of drama is believed to augment the development of literacy skills among young as well as grown up students.
The use of drama in the classroom to teach students, especially the kindergarten students, has been reportedly shown to foster and motivate the learning and literacy skills through enactment and dramatic play of the curriculum (Catterall, 2002). The ability of students to actively participate and engage in dramatic enactment of a story or play, enhanced their comprehension capabilities (Page, 2002). Additionally, the use of drama and theatre in the classroom is also known to have a positive impact on the quality of the writings through poetry, games movement and improvisation thereby contributing to their overall performance in academics (Moore and Helen, 2002).
The study of music and musical instruments has also demonstrated the development of spatial and temporal reasoning, which are integral aspects involved in the learning of mathematics. Research confirms that students who are actively involved in the study of music have a greater likelihood of scoring higher on the standardized mathematics tests such as the SAT. The reason for this has been stated that training in rhythm focuses on the proportion, patterns and ratios which are common expressions in the domain of mathematics (Vaughn, 2002).
Participation of students in other art forms such as dancing or visual arts also enhances the development of thinking skills more specifically creative thinking ability. Experimental research affirms this relationship between dance and the ability to think creatively and establishes that high school students scored comparatively higher than in this regard than those students who were not associated with some kind of art form (Minton, 2002). Reasoning and critical skills of students who practiced some dance form was reportedly better than those who did not with regard to drawing inferences from scientific artworks through close observation and reasoning (Tishman, MacGillivray, and Palmer, 2002).
In another research which studied the comparative performance of mathematics among students who were involved in an orchestra or band through their middle and high school years, reveals that children associated with the music activity performed better at grade 12 than those who did not (Catterall, 2002). Alarmingly, when these results were compared with students from low-income families it was revealed that the involvement in orchestra or band doubled their chances of performances at the highest level in math as compared to those students who were not involved (Catterall, Chapleau, and Iwanaga, 2002).
Thus, it is apparent that learning of some or the other art forms is highly beneficial to the academic performances of students through their entire student life. Arts have a direct association with the overall development of personality and promote the healthy and positive growth of social skills through enhanced self confidence, self control and conflict resolution among students. Arts have been proven to play a vital role in the development of academic skills like reading, mathematics and science, which students may sometimes find difficult. The benefits of learning arts are manifold and through the ability to provide motivation and perseverance, arts have the ability to ensure that students successfully complete their education.
- Catterall, James S. (2002), “The Arts and the Transfer of Learning.” In R. Deasy (Ed.), Critical Links: Learning in the Arts and Student Achievement and Social Development, Washington, DC: AEP
- Catterall, James S. (2002), “Involvement in the Arts and Success in Secondary School.” In R. Deasy (Ed.), Critical Links: Learning in the Arts and Student Achievement and Social Development, Washington, DC: AEP.
- Catterall, James S., Richard Chapleau, and John Iwanaga (2002), “Involvement in the Arts and Human Development: Extending an Analysis of General Associations and Introducing the Special Cases of Intensive Involvement in Music and Theatre Arts.” In R. Deasy (Ed.), Critical Links: Learning in the Arts and Student Achievement and Social Development, Washington, DC: AEP.
- Center on Education Policy. (2006). From the Capitol to the Classroom: Year 4 of the No Child Left Behind Act, March 2006. (p. xi).
- Deasy, Richard J. (editor) (2002), Critical Links: Learning in the Arts and Student Achievement and Social Development, Washington, DC: AEP.
- Deasy, Richard J., “Don’t Axe the Arts!.” National Association of Elementary School Principals, Volume 82, Number 3 (2003).
- Horowitz, R. & Webb-Dempsey, J. (2003). Promising signs of positive effects: Lessons from the multi-arts studies. In R. J. Deasy (Ed). Critical Links: Learning in the Arts and Student Academic and Social Development. Washington, DC: Arts Education Partnership. (p. 98-100). Mason, C.Y., Thormann, M.
- Kathryn Vaughn and Ellen Winner (2000). SAT Scores of Students Who Study the Arts: What We Can and Cannot Conclude about the Association. 2005 College-Bound Seniors: Total Group Profile Report, The College Board, 2005, Table 3-3.
- Minton, Sandra (2002), “Assessment of High School Students’ Creative Thinking Skills: A Comparison of the Effects of Dance and Non-dance Classes.” In R. Deasy (Ed.), Critical Links: Learning in the Arts and Student Achievement and Social Development, Washington, DC: AEP.
- Moore, Blaine H. and Helen Caldwell (2002), “Drama and Drawing for Narrative Writing in Primary Grades.” In R. Deasy (Ed.), Critical Links: Learning in the Arts and Student Achievement and Social Development, Washington, DC: AEP.
- New Commission on the Skills of the American Workforce (2006). Executive Summary.
- Page, Anita (2002), “Children’s Story Comprehension As a Result of Storytelling and Story Dramatization: A Study of the Child As Spectator and Participant.” In R. Deasy (Ed.), Critical Links: Learning in the Arts and Student Achievement and Social Development, Washington, DC: AEP.
- Tishman, Shari, Dorothy MacGillivray, and Patricia Palmer (2002), “Investigating the Educational Impact and Potential of the Museum of Modern Art’s Visual Thinking Curriculum: Final Report.” In R. Deasy (Ed.), Critical Links: Learning in the Arts and Student Achievement and Social Development, Washington, DC: AEP.
- Vaughn, Kathryn (2002), “Music and Mathematics: Modest Support for the Oft-Claimed Relationship.” In R. Deasy (Ed.), Critical Links: Learning in the Arts and Student Achievement and Social Development, Washington, DC: AEP.
- Vaughn, Kathryn and Ellen Winner (2002), “SAT Scores of Students Who Study the Arts: What We Can and Cannot Conclude about the Association.” In R. Deasy (Ed.), Critical Links: Learning in the Arts and Student Achievement and Social Development, Washington, DC: AEP.