Did you know that swinging a hammer in a woodworking shop has a wide range of benefits for students? Woodworking provides the ability to identify a problem, brainstorm the possible solutions, and test your ideas. These skills lend themselves to all aspects of life, both inside the classroom and out. Woodworking classes have recently regained popularity because they build essential life lessons along with reinforcing math, science, and problem-solving skills. In fact, a study from Purdue University showed students benefited from participating in hands-on engineering projects. A woodworking program benefits students in the following ways:
Take a mental walk through a school music building. Listen to the stroke of a guitar, the rich harmonies from singing voices, and the dancing feet of preschoolers. Perhaps you can hear them all in succession as you walk down the hallway? A robust performing arts department welcomes a mixture of activities, a symphony of varying sounds, and a buzz of productive energy. Each and every student’s individual artistic journey can and should be supported by a performing arts program. As a music teacher in a department of which I am very proud, I hear students discussing their experiences in the performing arts, as well as prospective families trying to figure out the best place for their child. It is time to clarify some misconceptions and equip families with the right questions to ask.
Think back to when you were a child. What kind of music did your parents listen to? Do you remember your parents singing you a lullaby? Perhaps you remember singing songs with your family, friends, or community as part of a celebration. Music is part of being human. Singing with your child is an incredibly important part of developing a well-rounded, creative, and expressive child. An article in the Chicago Tribune notes that singing has a variety of health benefits, from increased antibodies to lower stress levels. In addition, singing has been shown to strengthen mental alertness, build social connections, and improve lung function. From forming key memories with your child to engaging the mind and lowering stress levels, you might consider adding singing to your family life
When students come to art they may think they’re going to learn to draw or paint, but by the end of each
If you ask young children what they want to be when they grow up, the most popular career choices are artists or athletes...and an occasional paleontologist. No matter where their dreams take them, though, they will rely on the skills, behaviors, and qualities that develop during a high-quality art education experience.
Sometimes these are areas that aren’t stressed in any other part of their education; sometimes they reinforce practices students are learning in their academic subjects. Some of these artistic behaviors include:
- Problem-finding (research, visualize possibilities, think divergently)
- Problem-solving (revise, refine, reinvent, infer and understand)
- Experimenting (improvise, explore media, innovate)
- Developing an array of work habits (plan, persevere, engage, set goals, organize, discuss, take risks, practice, rework mistakes)
The process of devising, creating, and revising art allows students the chance to practice these skills creatively. These skills are so valued by today’s employers, that some of the nation’s top business schools are offering courses that deliberately foster students’ critical thinking and creativity in order to cultivate fresh approaches to identifying problems and developing solutions.
How exactly does a good art curriculum help? Stanford researcher Elliot Eisner’s exploration of the value of the visual arts explains it best in his 10 Lessons the Arts Teach.
"The arts teach children that in complex forms of problem-solving, purposes are seldom fixed, but change with circumstance and opportunity."
At its essence, Eisner finds that a thoughtful, quality art curriculum leads students to get comfortable with new experiences, see the world in a new way, value multiple perspectives, and use their developing world view and tool kit of resources to approach new challenges in creative ways.
At many times during our adult lives, we are asked to stand before a crowd and speak, deliver a presentation for work, or even offer a toast to a happy couple. Speaking in front of a group of people can make your palms sweaty and your heart starts to race. Without a podium to lean on, one can feel exposed and uncomfortable. Experience in the performing arts can empower students to express themselves in public forums with effectiveness, skill, and confidence for the rest of their lives
Ask art teachers about the superstars in their classrooms; they will report that their students are the smartest kids on campus. Research supports these claims. Student involvement in the arts— whether theatre, dance, music, or visual—develops skills linked to improved performance in other disciplines. These include:
- Reading acquisition
- Phonological awareness
- Sequence learning
- Long-term and working memory
- Spatial relationship
- Student motivation
However, the need to quantify the value of art education in relation to alternate academic disciplines is flawed and predicated on recent trends cutting the arts in favor of targeted teaching to standardized tests.