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Should Art and Music Education be Included in School Education?
“Art does not solve problems, but makes us aware of their existence,” sculptor Magdalena Abakanowicz said. The arts are closely linked to social and emotional development, academic achievement, civic engagement, and opportunities.
A study on 811 high school students was done to see which teacher they thought of as a role model. 36% chose music teachers, 28% chose English teachers, 11% chose elementary school teachers, 7% said P.E./sports teachers, and 1% said principals were a role model at their school (“Benefits of Music Education”).
Forty-seven states have arts-education authorizations and forty-eight states have arts-education standards. Forty out of fifty states have arts education requirements for high school graduation. The Goals 2000 Educate America Act that was passed in 1994 declared art to be a part of what all schools should teach (Smith).
The No Child Left Behind Organization (NCLB) enacted in 2001 that art should be included as one of the ten academic subjects to be taught at a public school. A national survey was taken in 2006 by the Center on Education Policy group. They found that five years after the NCLB enactment, 44% of districts had increased the time in elementary school for language arts and math and had decreased the time spent on the other subjects. In February 2008, a follow-up survey showed that 16% of districts had reduced class time in elementary school for art and music (Smith).
A 2005 report by the Rand Corporation stated that art “…can connect people more deeply to the world and open them to new ways of seeing.”
The arts are also associated with other skills like math, reading, intellectual ability, critical thinking, and verbal speech. Arts education has helped students to understand things better than if they didn’t have art education. It improves motivation, concentration, confidence, and teamwork (Smith).
Eric Cooper, president and founder of the National Urban Alliance for Effective Education said that, “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.”
In schools, the arts are used as a learning tool to help with other subjects. Some classes use musical notes to teach fractions. Arts are also included in other classes. In a history class, students could write and perform a short skit about an event in history (Smith).
A study was done on 237 second graders. They used piano playing software and new math software to show their improvement in math. One group used both software programs and the other used only the new math software. The group that used both software programs scored 27% higher than the group that used only the math software (“Benefits of Music Education”).
Students who studied music scored higher on the SAT than those who didn’t study music. The students who were in music performance scored 57 points higher on the verbal part and 41 points higher on the math. Students who were in music appreciation scored 63 points higher on verbal part and 44 points higher on the math section (“Benefits of Music Education”).
The U.S. Department of Education did a study on more than 25,000 secondary students
and found that the students who were involved in music during middle school and high school
showed improvement in math by 12th grade (“Benefits of Music Education”).
The National Education Longitudinal Study of 1988 found that students who studied music were awarded with more academic honors and awards than students who didn’t study music. The students who studied music also received more A’s, A/B’s, and B’s than students who didn’t study music (“Benefits of Music Education”).
“Many colleges view participation in the arts and music as a valuable experience that broadens students’ understanding and appreciation of the world around them. It is also well known and widely recognized that the arts contribute significantly to children’s intellectual development,” said the U.S. Department of Education in 1997.
The arts are one of the aspects that colleges look at when they are deciding whether or not to accept someone into the college. The College Board includes the arts as one of the six main academic subjects that students should study in school if they want to be successful in college (“Benefits of Music Education”).
The arts also create jobs in a community. They boost tourism by tourists visiting museums, theaters, and art studios (“Benefits of Music Education”).
It was proven in the Texas Commission on Drug and Alcohol Abuse Report that middle school and high school students who were in band or orchestra were less likely to drink alcohol, do drugs or smoke tobacco (“Benefits of Music Education”).
John J. Ratey said, “The musician is constantly adjusting decisions on tempo, tone, style, rhythm, phrasing, and feeling- training the brain to become incredibly good at organizing and conducting numerous activities at once. Dedicated practice of this orchestration can have a great payoff for lifelong attentional skills, intelligence, and an ability for self-knowledge and expression.”
Dr. Timo Krings did a study on the brain activity on pianists and non-musicians. They were the same age and gender and were required to demonstrate complex sequences using finger movement. “Their brains were scanned using a technique called ‘functional magnetic resource imaging’ which detects the activity levels of brain cells. The non-musicians were able to make the movements as correctly as the pianists, but less activity was detected in the pianists’ brains. Thus, compared to non-musicians, the brains of pianists are more efficient at making skilled movements. These findings show that musical training can enhance brain function.”
As well as Dr. Timo Krings’s study, researchers in Leipzig, Germany learned that musicians had a larger planum temporale(‘part of the brain that helps with reading skills’) than non-musicians. It also showed that musicians had a thicker corpus callosum(‘pack of nerve fibers that connects the two halves of the brain’) (“Benefits of Music Education”).
Other researchers found that students that took piano lessons improved their special-temporal IQ scores (“Benefits of Music Education”).
Former president, Bill Clinton stated that, “Music is about communication, creativity and cooperation, and by studying music in school, students have the opportunity to build on these skills, enrich their lives and experience the world from a new perspective.”
“Music is one way for young people to connect with themselves, but it is also a bridge for connecting with others. Through music, we can introduce children to the richness and diversity of the human family and the myriad rhythms of life,” said Daniel A. Carp.