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Argument 1 paper


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Argument paper written for an argument and analysis class at GVSU.

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Argument 1 paper

  1. 1. Running head: ARTS EDUCATION 1 Arts Education to Foster Creativity in Schools Kelsey E. Stevenson Grand Valley State University
  2. 2. ARTS EDUCATION 2 Arts Education to Foster Creativity in Schools Tom Horne, the Arizona state superintendent of public instruction said, “When you think about the purposes of education, there are three. We’re preparing kids for jobs. We’re preparing them to be citizens. And we’re teaching them to be human beings who can enjoy the deeper forms of beauty. The third is as important as the other two” (as cited in Smith, 2009, para 17). Creativity and self-expression are vital parts of child development and should be implemented in schools all over the country for that reason. This paper will discuss the importance of creativity for child development, the ways in which the arts increase students’ success in core subjects, and the effects that the implementation of arts education has on students. The Importance of Creativity for Child Development There are many roles that education plays and teachers, administrators, parents, and students all interpret these roles in different ways. The overarching role of education that encompasses most peoples’ opinions is to “prepare the students.” It may be preparing students for a job, preparing them for life, or many other things. In order to prepare the students for such things, you have to find a way to fully engage the students, particularly at an elementary level, so that they have a similar goal and are “prepared” for whatever may come their way. According to Dr. Rena Upitis (2011), many teachers, administrators, parents and even scholars agree that “education in elementary school should be education for life” (p. 7). One very important component in a child’s early years of development is creativity and expression through the arts. Many who disagree argue that subjects like science and math should take precedence over things like music and dance because they are more important to development and success. However, many well-known scientists have a history in the arts and
  3. 3. ARTS EDUCATION 3 claim that their experiences in the arts have fostered their imagination in science. Physicist Murray Gell-Mann is also a poet, physicist Victor Weisskopf is a pianist and even Johannes Kepler was an artist and a musician. Science is not necessarily just facts, statistics, and logic, but also imagination and exploration into the unknown, something that requires creativity. When math and science education is pushed and other subjects are limited, the ability to raise interesting questions and solve creative problems is also limited (Zweig, 1986). The arts obviously play a key role in a child’s development, just as it did in many famous scientists’ lives. Ellen Dissanayake, a scholarly writer in subjects such as philosophy and anthropology, also believes in the essentiality of art in every person’s life. She believes that there are five features that are natural in human development, all relating to the arts. The first is “art-making is universal” because it is a way of communication that people of all cultures and societies can participate in. The second is “the investment of resources in the arts” due to the fact that people in ancient times invested a significant amount of time and resources into the arts. The third is “biological importance” because many people’s daily rituals and routines are “artified” as she calls it. The fourth is “arts are associated with pleasure” because we as human beings typically strive for creative activities like music or dance. The fifth and final feature is “juvenile predisposition to the arts” because children naturally are drawn to things such as rhythms, singing, and stories (Upitis, 2011). The Arts and Increased Success in Other Subjects There is a strong focus in today’s education system on reading, mathematics, and science, all of which are typically tested through standardized testing. The focus on these subjects often minimizes the need for any arts related subjects, because of a general assumption that the arts are less important. A study done by Webb and Rule (2013) showed the effects of integrating
  4. 4. ARTS EDUCATION 4 creativity into a health and nutrition class for second graders. It focused on their knowledge of health and nutrition when using the creativity learning techniques and when using traditional learning techniques. The teachers began classes by encouraging creativity and creating an enthusiastic environment for the students. The study showed that when students participated in the creative learning techniques, they not only revealed higher levels of creativity but also better content knowledge and retention. The overall conclusion was that students in a creative arts- related environment are still able to retain information, if not retain more information, while also enhancing skills like originality, emotion, and storytelling (Webb & Rule, 2013). In 1995, The Royal Conservatory of Music in Toronto, CA established a Canadian artist- teacher education approach called Learning Through the Arts. Learning Through the Arts is a “proven transformative educational program that uses arts-based activities to teach the core curriculum by providing teachers with creative tools to engage all students in math, science, language arts, social studies, and more” (“Learning Through the Arts®,” n.d.). There has been a significant amount of research done on this program over the years, majority of it proving the success of the program. A research study done by Smithrim and Upitis (2005) showed that students who are heavily involved in the arts at school had generally more engagement in school. The most vital finding in the study was that the students’ involvement in the arts did not decrease their involvement or success in math and language arts. The Learning Through the Arts program actually had showed greater student achievement in mathematics specifically, mostly because the students were so heavily engaged in the arts related learning styles. Many of the learning techniques used in this program also involvement physical movement, and 78% of students wanted more physical education in school after being in this program. Many parents also valued
  5. 5. ARTS EDUCATION 5 the social benefits that came from the program, saying that their children were making new friends, staying out of trouble, and becoming more interested in school and in things and activities outside of school (Smithrim & Upitis, 2005). Some teacher testimonials from the program said that they were consciously making efforts to use the arts more frequently at school, they regretted that they did not realize how important the arts were at the beginning of their teaching careers, and that their students that typically struggled in school or seemed “hopeless” were excelling in the Learning Through the Arts program (Elster, 2001). Arts Education in Schools to Foster Creativity Even if teachers today do not appreciate the arts or have backgrounds in music, dance, or drama, there is an enormous value in encouraging students to be creative, especially at an elementary level. At such a young age, children are developing academically, socially, emotionally and spiritually. Incorporating the arts into classrooms can give children the opportunity to thrive in all these areas. Not only do the arts promote development in many other subjects for the average child, but they also have been proven to help those children who struggle in different ways. For example, there have been studies that have shown that English Language Learners, or ELLs, are able to learn English faster through the use of music (Paquette & Rieg, 2008). In the early years when a child’s brain is still developing, environments that incorporate the arts help children to be more creative, become more engaged and interested, and to learn in a positive environment. Teachers play a huge role in the incorporation of the arts into the classroom. They have to be supportive and on board with arts education programs in order for students to feel as though they are in a safe, open environment. Teachers lay down the foundation for students to be creative. When teachers teach in a creative way, students are able to express themselves and be
  6. 6. ARTS EDUCATION 6 vulnerable. Being creative doesn’t necessarily mean painting or singing, but rather redefining problem-solving, developing feelings and emotions for the world around you, or daring to take creative risks (Tanggaard, 2011). Because the arts can play such a vital role in child development, requiring it in schools makes it available to all students. Many children that come from wealthy families have the opportunity to be enrolled in ballet or visit the art museum, while low-income children do not. Eric Cooper, founder of the National Urban Alliance for Effective Education, said, “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” (as citied in Smith, 2009, para 2). Conclusion This paper discussed the importance of creativity for child development, the ways in which the arts increase students’ success in core subjects, and the effects that the implementation of arts education has on students. Arts education should be implemented in schools, especially at the elementary level because creativity and self-expression are vital to child development. Plato once said, “Music is a moral law. It gives soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination, and charm and gaiety to life and to everything” (as cited in Paquette & Rieg, 2008, p. 231).
  7. 7. ARTS EDUCATION 7 References Elster, A. (2001). Learning Through the Arts™ Program goals, features, and pilot results. International Journal of Education & the Arts, 2, 7-24. Learning Through the Arts®. (n.d.). The Royal Conservatory Web site. Retrieved October 23, 2015 from Paquette, K. R. & Rieg, S. A. (2008). Using music to support the literacy development of young English Language Learners. Early Childhood Education Journal, 36, 227-232. Smith, F. (2009). Why arts education is crucial, and who’s doing it best. Retrieved October 10, 2015 from Smithrim, K. & Upitis, R. (2005). Learning through the arts: Lessons of engagement. Canadian Journal of Education, 28, 109-127. Tanggaard, L. (2011). Stories about creative teaching and productive learning. European Journal of Teacher Education, 34, 219-232. Upitis, R. (2011). Arts education for the development of the whole child (Unpublished doctoral dissertation). Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario, Toronto, ON. Webb, A. N. & Rule, A. C. (2013). Effects of teacher lesson introduction on second graders’ creativity in a science/literacy integrated unit on health and nutrition. Early Childhood Education Journal, 42, 351-360. Zweig, C. (1986). Exploring the link between arts and sciences: ‘Artistic creativity enhances scientific imagination,’ L.A. Biochemist claims. Los Angeles Times. Retrieved from