I recently learned of the following information and feel that it builds nicely on my last two posts: Do the Arts Make Kids Smarter? and The Arts Are Good For… As I have written in earlier posts, studies continue to show the value of the arts as basic in education. This information simply continues the ever-growing body of evidence to support this value in the educational lives of all learners.
Dan Willingham, a cognitive scientist at the University of Virginia and author of Why Don’t Students Like School: A Cognitive Scientist Answers Questions About How the Mind Works and What it Means for the Classroom, published an article entitled “Willingham: Six Practical Reasons Why Arts Education is Not a Mere Luxury” (Washington Post, November 23, 2009). Jerry Kagen, a leading researcher in developmental psychology, presented Willingham’s six reasons at the Neuroeducation: Learning, Arts, and the Brain conference on May 9, 2009. They are summarized here:
- The arts offer students another chance to feel successful, and to feel that they belong at school.
- The arts offer that sense of agency, of creation.
- The arts offer a unique means of communication, using representations in the mind other than words, which are at the core of most school subjects.
- Participation in the arts allows children to see the importance of creating beauty, of creating an object that others may enjoy.
- The arts offer an opportunity for children to work together, for the benefit of others.
- The arts provide a chance for children to express feelings that they otherwise might be unable to express. Such expression reduces illness and increases feelings of well-being.
My next several posts will look more in depth at each of Willingham’s six points.