Arts: The Heart of Education

I just spent a wonderful day at the 2011 Positive Youth Development Institute where I presented  a workshop to educators, social directors, arts council directors and others, along with Argy Nestor, the Visual and Performing Arts Specialist from the Maine Department of Education.  The keynote speaker at this event was Tony Wagner, author of The Global Achievement Gap.  Tony spoke eloquently about the seven survival skills the business world is saying they need from our students in the future:

  • Critical Thinking and Problem Solving
  • Collaboration Across Networks and Leading by Influence
  • Agility and Adaptability
  • Initiative and Entrepreneurship
  • Effective Oral and Written Communication
  • Accessing and Analyzing Information
  • Curiosity and Imagination

This was the perfect introduction to our workshop on the Arts at the Heart of Education because these are exactly the skills that the arts inherently teach!  Research shows, without a doubt, that the arts have a positive effect on academic scores, on school climate and on student engagement.  Argy and I created a wiki for our presentation with lots of information, and research to back up these claims.  Did you know that the No Child Left Behind Act includes the arts as core academic subjects – on an equal level to mathematics, language arts, social studies and science?  It is, indeed, true.  Now it is up to us to ensure that the arts get their full recognition in classrooms across the country so that students get the best we have to offer in a rich, quality education.