Milton the Mouse loves Beethoven and quotes John Milton.
He is a very smart mouse.
Parents: children who have classes in art and music score higher on achievement tests in reading, math, and language. Fifty years of statistics, surveys, on-site observation, and yearly test scores tell the tale.**(see recent links below) When the Arts are part of the curriculum, student achievement soars. The reverse is also true: when the Arts are absent from the school curriculum student scores fall.
Every child should have a chance to explore the Arts. Great music, poetry, and art come alive in everyday life. They offer meaning, beauty, and at times just plain fun. When was the last time you tapped your toes to music? Did you learn to play an instrument, sing, dance, draw, paint, sculpt, write poetry, tell stories, or act in a skit? We learn a lot doing that, more than most of us realize. The improvement happens because each art form is a Discipline, a Language, an Expressive outlet, and stimulates brain function. Discipline has a negative meaning when it’s applied as punishment; but the term Discipline means something quite different in areas of learning.
Discipline: a Branch of Knowledge
What do I mean Discipline? Each of the Arts is a branch of knowledge in its own right, an academic or performance Discipline. Each academic discipline holds its own truths, cultural norms, appreciation, aesthetics, and philosophies. That’s the intellectual side of the Arts. The performance side we enjoy in museums, concerts, galas, festivals, theaters, and all kinds of live performance. One part is theory; one part is practice.
Discipline: it takes practice to build skills
Practice is a different form of discipline: repeated action to gain skill control. That not only trains the eye, the ear, the hands, it is also a personal discipline that builds character, orderliness, and efficiency. By teaching students to draw, paint, sing, play instruments, dance, craft, construct, act, emote, move, or write, we train the eye and the ear, improve coordination, refine the senses, and assist brain development. For some, the term practice invokes grim images of drudgery, but it’s not, or doesn’t have to be. Arts training is enjoyable, relieves stress, and promotes creativity. These hands-on learning activities and acquired skills make students smarter, just plain smarter. High achievement scores and accomplishments tell the story.
How does this happen? In my next Blog I will try to explain some of the ways this works. Stay tuned.
**(Read results for yourself: https://psycnet.apa.org/record/2019-34936-001)
Milton the Mouse by Janice E. Kirk, is my salute to the Arts. It’s a middle grade story, a fun read and available at: http://amazon.com http://barnesandnoble.com http://indiebound.org http://wipfandstockpublishers.com