Academics Alone is Like TV Without the Picture – You can hear everything that’s going on and you can pretty much understand what’s happening, but the entire meaning, thought or action being portrayed is lost to you entirely. You are unable to see what the actors see, laugh at what they are laughing at, be surprised, see their expressions, etc., etc. You are only enjoying half the show.
Academics alone acts the same way as TV without the picture. Like only the sound coming out of the TV, the facts coming into your brain need an experience (visual, linguistic, movement, or music) to make sense. The connection to other experiences are needed in order to form long term memories. Otherwise they are only used for a short period of time and then are lost. The enjoyment may only be that you have received a high grade on a test that asked you to recall those facts.
Core academics alone cannot prepare students for what they will face in the future. Core academics gives students facts for which they use only to complete tests. Tests which grant them entrance into schools which give them more facts to complete more tests. Only to graduate with a head full of facts and no knowledge of how to use them to make a life for themselves.
So what else is needed to bring the “full picture” of academics into view? For a TV, it’s the main circuit board or picture pixels on the screen. For a child it’s the four modalities of the Arts interacting with academics in the four areas of the brain.
Of all academic subjects, mathematics is most closely connected to music. Counting is fundamental to music because one must count beats, count rests and count how long to hold notes. Music students use geometry to remember the correct finger positions for notes or chords on instruments. Reading music requires an understanding of ratios and proportions so that whole notes are held longer than half notes.
In the area of the visual arts, the human brain has the incredible ability to form images and representations of the real world or sheer fantasy within its mind’s eye. This process, called imagery, is the mental visualization of objects, events and arrays related to the method for storing information in the brain. Project based classes give children the experiences they need to make long term memories for more and more complicated connections later on.
Movement activities are also effective because they involve more sensory input, hold the students’ attention for longer periods of time, help them make connections between new and past learnings and improve long-term recall. Movement also develops emotional control, attention, personality and sensory controls.
Studies consistently show that where arts are integrated into the core curriculum:
- students are empowered to be invested in their classes
- students work harder and learn from each other
- team building and working together turn classrooms into learning communities
- teachers collaborate more with each other and parents
- the Arts become the center of multi-class projects
- learning in all subjects becomes achievable through the arts for everyone
- curriculum becomes more authentic, hands-on and project-based
- assessments are more thoughtful and varied
The Arts play an important role in education, enhancing the growth of cognitive, emotional, and sensory pathways in children. As educators, we have an obligation to expose students to all the Arts and consider them not as an extra fun thing to do, but as a fundamental (not optional) part of the education process.