• The He♡rt in Creative ARTs!
    By: Ellen Y.

       “Every child is an artist. The problem is to remain an artist once they grow up,” famous painter Pablo Picasso once said. Years of research show that the arts touch every aspect that we as moms, dads, teachers and kids alike want for both ourselves & students and demand from our schools: academic achievement, social, emotional development, civic engagement, and equitable opportunity. And by having art education in our schools, not only do we find the artist inside, but can help nurture it, whether it’s visual arts, dancing, singing, drama or writing… students who have creative arts in their lives will be more likely to succeed in life!

       "If they're worried about their test scores and want a way to get them higher, they need to give kids more arts, not less," says Tom Horne, Arizona's state superintendent of public instruction. "There's lots of evidence that kids immersed in the arts do better on their academic tests," said, Mr. Horne. Research has shown that not only does the arts improve the way kids see school, the arts can change the classroom environment, making learning a fresh and rewarding idea. With their emphasis on creative discovery and their ability to stimulate a variety of learning styles, the arts create enthusiasm and motivation for learning. The arts also teach discipline, the value of determination to achieve excellence and the rewards of hard work, whether it’s pushing yourself forward to be able to replicate Shakespeare’s Hamlet or giving your all to getting the final touches on an art piece. I know from personal experience that art has helped me relax and rewind my feelings, and take the stress out of learning. While others need a good cup of tea or a few push-ups, I need a good song to warm myself up for a big test! And what could be better than being able to do what you love and have it part of your everyday life? But it has become a repetitive concern in education that the No Child Left Behind act, with its pressure to raise test scores, has reduced classroom time devoted to the arts (and science, social studies, and everything else besides reading and math...)

       When Mr. George W. Bush signed the No Child Left Behind act, he wasn’t just thinking about his daughters, he was thinking about the country. Yet when the average student thinks about school, the first thought that usually pops in any child’s head is “Oh no… school? Again?” But what if we could make it into an enjoyable time for self-expression and new thinking? That’s where art’s education comes in. Believe it or not, schools who incorporate art into their programs not only end up with more happy students and teachers, but also social and emotional problems occur less often and create a portal for shyer more “enclosed” students to express themselves through new ways. That means just by having drama class or art class or even just singing in your school choir is helping others around you to open themselves up! So even by taking the time to add creative arts to your school, you’re giving your school a new “heart” and developing stronger emotional and social improvement!
       Not only should creative arts be used to develop social and emotional skills, creative arts should be used as a tool inside the class, not as the enemy of school time. Instead of talking endlessly about things that make no sense, why not sing as a learning tool (for example, musical notes to teach fractions); incorporating arts into other core classes; creating a school environment rich in arts and culture and hands-on arts instruction? It’s part of your own education as well. Because if we have the arts in our public schools, just offer it as a special addition to the already free programs in our academics, imagine what a difference it could make in any student’s life! "Arts education enables those children from a financially challenged background to have a more level playing field with children who have had those enrichment experiences,'' says Eric Cooper, president and founder of the National Urban Alliance for Effective Education.
       Schools within the United States have not properly addressed the importance of art and music in education. Many American states have either already gotten rid of their arts programs or will be getting rid of them in the future. This will not only prevent some children from pursuing a rich career in the arts, but also hinder some people’s ability to learn and retain information. The arts have been proven to expand and enrich the mind in ways that math, science, and history cannot. They are languages that all people speak that cut across racial, cultural, social, educational, and economic barriers and enhance cultural appreciation and awareness. It is unreasonable to completely get rid of these very important subjects in the educational process, seeing how they reflect the students eyes through this new world of difference and change. The students of America need their education just as much they need the arts, they need to be given the chance, the opportunity of creative freedom. From my point of view, the arts are just as important as any other subject. In many high schools, though, science and math are priorities and the arts are considered less important. In recent years, there has been discussion about continuing these programs. Some feel that, because of budget problems, schools should cut music and theater programs to save money. I strongly contrary that opinion. What we learn in these classes is priceless. As Charles Fowler, author of Educational Leadership once said, “Strong arts, strong schools.” Maybe, one day, every student in the U.S. will be given the opportunity of creative arts and let it lead them to a new world of diversity and success!