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Integrating Art into Education

This week we celebrated “National Inspire Your Heart with Art Day.” At Educate. Radiate. Elevate., we believe that an appreciation and understanding of the arts helps to inspire successful, well-rounded students!

Why Art in Education?

An education that includes the arts goes farther than reading Shakespeare, examining Van Gogh paintings, and listening to Mozart. Students are able to participate in the arts when they take art, theater, music, culinary, and dance classes in school. Participating in the arts can give students a break from tests and lectures. Additionally, as stated in the Edutopia editorial story, “Involvement in the arts is associated with gains in math, reading, cognitive ability, critical thinking, and verbal skill.” Students are exercising new parts of their brain when they participate in the creative thinking that studying and creating art requires. This can improve their overall learning abilities that can be applied to other areas of their education.

Furthermore, studying classic forms of art in school allows students to become knowledgeable of history and other cultures. For instance, the Star Spangled Banner, which was adapted by Francis Scott Key from his poem “Defence of Fort M’Henry,” paints a picture of The Battle of Fort Henry, an event that shaped our nation. Students studying the formation of The United States of America can evaluate the lyrics and examine the instruments used. This will not only help them gain an appreciation of the artistry of our nation’s anthem, it will also give them a better perspective of this important historical event. Another example is The Birth of Venus, which is a painting depicting a Roman mythological goddess. The art piece is both stunning and didactic. Students studying this famous painting can learn more about Roman culture, specifically Roman Mythology and how worshiping the gods influenced Roman citizens’ government structure, interpersonal relationships, and day-to-day lives. Through examining historical art, students are able to gain deeper insight into the circumstances surrounding their creation and thereby better understand the historical and cultural events related to them. With a better understanding of art, history, and culture, students become well-rounded citizens who can more effectively lead in our modern society.

Art can also be used in practical ways for learning. Studies such as the one conducted by Dr. Mariale Hardiman prove that including the arts when teaching core subjects allows students – especially students that struggled academically – to retain more information and “reach a higher level of achievement,” as stated in the Arts Academy of the Woods website. Dr. Hardman’s research involved two groups of students studying molecular motion. One group of students used a basic academic approach of learning from books and worksheets, while the other group “acted out” molecular motion using their bodies in creative ways. According to test results, the group that performed the creative study method retained the content more thoroughly. Studies like this show that incorporating practical uses of art into students’ education can improve student success.

Unfortunately, despite the clear value of art, many students lack access to art based on financial barriers or physical proximity. An article in the Pepperdine University Graphic included a poignant statistic: “After adjusting for inflation, art funding throughout the years has decreased 43.4 percent.” Many school districts are no longer allocating the same amount of money in their budgets for the arts as they are for athletics and other various extracurriculars. This lack of funding is seen most often in less wealthy school districts, as there is simply not as much money to spare for funding any extracurriculars, arts, and humanities. Additionally, students who come from disadvantaged communities do not often have nearby access to art museums, symphonies, or theaters. The president of the National Urban Alliance for Effectiveness Education, Eric Cooper, believes that, “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.” While children who are born into advantaged families are often given opportunities to travel, visit art museums, watch musicals, attend concerts, participate in community theaters, join bands, and take art classes – disadvantaged children are rarely given the same opportunities. It is essential that we integrate art education in our school systems so that low-income students are also able to study and participate in the arts.

How to Implement Art into Your Education

While many educators agree that incorporating art into education is important, it is not often applied well in the schooling systems. This requires us to find alternative ways to implement art into our children’s learning. 

Incorporating different forms of art into education can add exciting touches to occasional monotonous academic coursework, and art can be used no matter what age the student is. Younger students may benefit from the improved memory retention that comes from painting their ABCs with bright colors, as opposed to simply writing them repetitively in pencil. Older students are more likely to use planners to organize their classes and study schedules that incorporate unique “DIY” elements such as this Creative Planner. The students who use the planners will feel proud of their designs and will reach for them often.

YouTube also has many different videos that combine music and visual art to make learning a new concept easy and exciting! For example, this Parts of a Cell song on YouTube is catchy, colorful, and interesting. Our tutors at E.R.E. are huge fans of using mnemonic devices – a technique that utilizes alternative methods of memorization such as song creation, visualization, and rhyming – in their instruction.

While art integration works well with core subjects such as Math and ELA, it can also be used in more unconventional ways to improve students’ educational experiences and home lives. Football players have been known to take ballet lessons, as the techniques improve agility and balance. We encourage our athletically inclined students to step outside of their comfort zones and use this free “Balletics” video to spice up their workout routine! Students interested in the culinary arts can use their student discount on the Home Chef food subscription box, which allows busy scholars to quickly cook exciting healthy meals using fresh ingredients. A well-balanced diet will improve students’ concentration and memory retention!

E.R.E.’s Mission

As a nonprofit focused on improving students’ educational achievement, E.R.E. implements alternative learning methods, like incorporating art, into its tutoring because we believe that every student learns in unique ways. We also include empathy, educational equity, cultural responsiveness, and a holistic approach in all of our student interactions. We teach hard skills, such as Math and ELA, as well soft skills, such as creativity, planning, and leadership. Our students are low-income students of color, and our aim is to close the growing achievement gap that plagues our nation’s schooling system. Are you inspired by our mission to close the achievement gap utilizing unique, alternative, and proven methods? Join us by donating, volunteering, interning, tutoring, and/or nominating a student!

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"Hi, I'm Lindsey.
Every other month, I share short emails full of hopeful stories, updates on your impact, and relevant news. Thousands of people enjoy them."
Lindsey Wander
Founder and President