Why Take an Art Class?
Pine-Richland School District is recognized for its outstanding visual arts program. When it comes to citing quality school districts with progressive arts curricula, Pine-Richland comes to the forefront. Our students are supported by a community and faculty that believes, as Elliot Eisner, professor of education at Stanford, states, the function of a school is not to help kids do well in school; but to help kids do well in life.
For more than a decade, irrefutable studies have shown that having arts in the curriculum improves overall learning and academics. In an article from the Chicago Tribune called Arts in the Schools Paint Masterpiece (October 21, 1999), Leroux and Grossman showed a growth of between 20% and 30% in math and reading scores in schools with art programs. Another Chicago Tribune (1999) article described a school where the majority of the students were reading below grade level. At the start of the school year, a strong art program was implemented; by the end of the school year, reading rates had nearly doubled.
Look at the research conducted by Dr. Shirley Brice Heath, Stanford University, for Carnegie Foundation for The Advancement of Teaching between 1987 and 1998. Young people working in the arts for at least three hours on three days of each week throughout one full school year demonstrated the following:
- 4 times more likely to have been recognized for academic achievement
- 4 times more likely to participate in a math and science fair
- 3 times more likely to win an award for school attendance
- 4 times more likely to win an award for writing an essay or poem
As art educators, we know that art can stand on its own as a powerful stimulant of creativity. It demands intense concentration and keen observation; it facilitates comparison, judgment and critical thinking, just as surely a complex math problem or a feat of engineering. Leading forces in the field, Daniel Pink and Richard Florida, speak about the interdependent nature of the arts, sciences, creativity, innovation, technology, education and the economy and the importance of developing multifaceted policies and school curricula that take advantage of their rich connections to each other. Art does not operate in a vacuum. It affects every subject, every link in the curriculum chain. To weaken an art program is to weaken the chain.
In a rapidly changing society, it is apparent that flexible, creative individuals will be highly valued, if not imperative.