Art and music education are usually the first to experience cutbacks when institutions experience budgetary constraints.  Some view art and music education as secondary to courses such as reading, writing, and math. Although the importance of the core subjects are undeniable, studies have shown that arts education plays a significant role in child development.

 

Numerous studies have been conducted to answer the question of whether or not art directly increases performance in other subject areas.

 

In 2002, a study conducted by the Arts Education Partnership found that students exposed to drama, art, and dance, performed better in reading, writing, and mathematics. “Notions that the arts are frivolous add-ons to a serious curriculum couldn’t be further from the truth” says James Catterall, a researcher and professor at The University of California Los Angeles. Catterall’s research suggests that arts education can help troubling school systems, “While education in the arts is no magic bullet for what ails many schools, the arts warrant a place in the curriculum because of their intimate ties to most everything we want for our children and schools.”

 

Two years prior to the Arts Education Partnership study however, researchers Ellen Winner and Lois Hetland of the Harvard Graduate School of Education found that arts education should be studied for its own intrinsic value because it may not have a direct, quantifiable impact on student performance in core subject areas.

 

Specifically, their study suggests that students taking art classes along with core academic classes, did not show a quantifiable increase in their scores but “[s]tudents who study the arts seriously are taught to see better, to envision, to persist, to be playful and learn from mistakes, to male critical judgements and justify such judgements.” Arts education promotes new and critical ways of thinking, and these skills can be applied to all subject areas.  Winner and Hetland’s research although found that an education in the arts might not directly impact how well students perform in math or reading courses, their study findings indicate however that an education in the arts, is a necessary investment into the growth and development of students.

 

Whether or not there is a direct correlation between music and art education and success, it is important that all students have access to these classes. The study of art and music is the study of culture and self-exploration. These two disciplines incorporate both spiritual and earthly elements helping students explore themselves and the world around them.

 

When art education is neglected, many students may miss the opportunity to find their passion or talent. Not all students excel in mathematics or science; moreover, without a creative outlet, students can fall behind and lose interest in their studies. The original and exploratory ways of thinking offered via courses in art and music education, are important for students as they grow older, and begin their careers.

 

What are your thoughts on art and music education in schools? Let me know in the comments below or find me on Twitter @whatsthesich