Monday, October 18, 2010

Value of the Arts

Recently published, The Transformative Power of the Arts in Closing the Achievement Gap, takes a look at the impact a robust arts program can have on academic performance. This work was a result from the work done by CCSESA (County Superintendents of Schools in the State of California) Arts Initiative and the Curriculum and Instruction Steering Committee (CISC) Visual and Performing Arts Subcommittee. The entire publication is available at

In a nutshell, the paper focuses on the “transformative power” of the arts and the relationship of this power and the promotion of 21st century work place skills. The paper states that this transformative power is most evident in the lives of youth who often do not have the opportunity to participate in the arts because of poverty, crime, special education placement, immigrant status, racial discrimination, traditional school day curriculum, and limited English skills. For many of these youth, the visual and performing arts offer a way to “level the playing field” and inspires them to excel.

The paper spends some time describing the achievement gap, stating, “Achievement gaps in schools reflect social stratification, discrimination and power relations in the society.” The Arts, on the other hand, can cross all of these barriers and offer huge benefit for all students not just some of the students; can be connected to growth in other areas; can hugely benefit marginalized populations, and can provide intrinsic motivations for students.

Reflect on this quote from Deborah Meier:

“The arts are fundamental to children’s education and they are fundamental because the arts are fundamental to human nature, to the human being, so I do not see art as an instrument to teach something else. The primary reason why we need strong arts programs in the schools is that human beings are artists. One way we grapple with ideas is through the arts…. A school that has ignored the artist in us has done damage.”

Be sure to include the arts in your program. To find out more about why that is so essential, read the Transformative Power of the Arts in Closing the Achievement Gap at the website below.

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