‘Arts Education is critical for helping students develop creativity, critical thinking and problem solving activities’ – Megan Chernin, LA Fund Chair
I spent Saturday morning, and most of Sunday afternoon, at a musical (‘Annie’) being held in my daughter’s elementary school. Now I am not just being biased when I say that the talent in this group of kids blew me away…. but it really did! The passion with which all of the kids sang, and danced, and just loved the experience of performing on the stage was contagious and their energy totally captivating.
It reminded me of just how vital the arts are to our children and to education. And also how important it is to nurture and educate the whole child, rather than just the one that education deems to be testable and therefore is often seen to be more important. Whether or not we mean it to be that way, once the ‘test’ tells us what is important, it is challenging not to feel the pressure for our students and our children to perform well in these areas. However, when you find yourself deep in conversation with a 9 year old, and if you really listen, you can see how vital these experiences in the arts really are. Following the show I had a detailed conversation with my daughter and a friend about how they would have changed some of the stage directions to make the transitions between scenes more efficient. And, when you listen to their suggestions and you find yourself agreeing with the suggestions they have made, and observe how thoughtful and insightful their observations are, you find yourself reminded of just how important these experiences are!
We constantly hear about how important it is to develop ‘critical thinkers’ and ‘problem solvers’ in our classrooms. And yet, the pressure to ensure that students can show these new skills, and be assessed, in traditional testing with a pencil and paper, just doesn’t match. A student fully engaged the arts and involved in experiences such as play rehearsals, planning costume changes, designing scenery and stage exits, will be engaged problem solving, flexible thinking and creative experiences that cannot be taught with a pencil and paper. How this type of thinking and learning is assessed, will, of course, depend on what the teacher is ultimately looking to assess, but the experiences and value to our children cannot and should not be underestimated.
I love the quote below by Mary Lou Cook!