From an article by educator and professor, Daniel Willingham in the Washington Post, quoting Jerry Kagan, on why children don't like school, Six practical reasons arts education is more than a luxury. I paste in the first two reasons:
First, he estimated that something like 95% of children are capable of doing the work necessary to obtain a high school diploma, yet the dropout rate hovers around 25%. Too many of these students quit because they decide (usually in about the fourth grade) that school is not the place for them. This decision is based largely on their perception of their performance in reading and mathematics. The arts, Kagan argues, offers such students another chance to feel successful, and to feel that they belong at school.
Second, Kagan argues that children today have very little sense of agency—that is, the sense that they undertake activities that have an impact on the world, however small. Kagan notes that as a child he had the autonomy to explore his town on his own, something that most parents today would not allow. When not exploring, his activities were necessarily of his own design, whereas children today would typically watch television or roam the internet, activities that are frequently passive and which encourage conformity. The arts, Kagan argues, offer that sense of agency, of creation.
Johns Hopkins University and the Dana Foundation hosted a conference titled “Neuroeducation: Learning, Arts and the Brain.” As the title implies, the goal was to bring together researchers considering, from an educational point of view, the impact of the arts on the brain. A book-length summary of the May conference just became available as a free pdf, available here.
As a shy, but extremely curious, very hard-of-hearing girl, art classes and self-guided tours in museums in Chicago gave me the confidence to meet the world. The image is my latest watercolor on birchwood panel, 16x14x1-3/4in., from the "Simkhes Toyre" series.