Theatre and School Success
Students involved in theatre. . .
1. Receive more As & Bs in English;
2. Score better on standardized tests;
3. Are almost 4 times less likely to drop out of school;
4. Are more likely to participate in community service.
5. 2002 SAT scores show students having coursework in drama scored higher than students who had no drama coursework.
Theatre and Employability Traits
Ever wonder what employer’s are really looking for when hiring? Theatre teaches analytical reasoning, creative thinking, decision making, and problem solving. Theatre education offers precisely the skills employers are looking for.
1. The ability to articulate a vision. This is what any artist does every time he or she works.
2. Orientation towards results. Theatre is wrapped up in doing, creating a piece of art, or finishing a performance.
3. Spirit of collaboration or empathy. Theatre fosters a keen sensitivity to the artist’s effect on those around him or her.
Lessons Theatre Teaches
What impact does theatre education have on students?
- Neither words nor numbers define what we know.
- Problems can have more than one solution.
- Celebrate multiple perspectives
- Small differences can have large effects
- Actions convey what cannot be said.
THE BENEFITS OF THEATRE ARTS
by Jonas Nasom
. Self-Confidence: Taking risks in class and performing for an audience teach students to trust their ideas and abilities. The confidence gained in drama applies to school, career, and life.
. Imagination: Making creative choices, thinking of new ideas, and interpreting familiar material in new ways are essential to drama. Einstein said, “Imagination is more important than knowledge.”
. Empathy: Acting roles from different situations, time periods, and cultures promotes compassion and tolerance for others’ feelings and viewpoints.
. Cooperation/Collaboration: Theater combines the creative ideas and abilities of its participants.
This cooperative process includes discussing, negotiating, rehearsing, and performing.
. Concentration: Playing, practicing, and performing develop a sustained focus of mind, body, and voice, which also helps in other school subjects and life.
. Communication Skills: Drama enhances verbal and nonverbal expression of ideas. It improves
voice projection, articulation of words, fluency with language, and persuasive speech. Listening and observation skills develop by playing drama games, being an audience, rehearsing, and performing.
. Problem Solving: Students learn how to communicate the who, what, where, and why to the
audience. Improvisation fosters quick-thinking solutions, which leads to greater adaptability in life.
. Fun: Drama brings play, humor, and laughter to learning; this improves motivation and reduces stress.
. Emotional Outlet: Pretend play and drama games allow students to express a range of emotions. Aggression and tension are released in a safe, controlled environment, reducing antisocial behaviors.
. Relaxation: Many drama activities reduce stress by releasing mental, physical, and emotional tension.
. Self-Discipline: The process of moving from ideas to actions to performances teaches the value of practice and perseverance. Drama games and creative movement improve self-control.
. Trust: The social interaction and risk taking in drama develop trust in self, others, and the process.
. Physical Fitness: Movement in drama improves flexibility, coordination, balance, and control.
. Memory: Rehearsing and performing words, movements, and cues strengthen this skill like a muscle.
. Social Awareness: Legends, myths, poems, stories, and plays used in drama teach students about social issues and conflicts from cultures, past and present, all over the world.
. Aesthetic Appreciation: Participating in and viewing theater raise appreciation for the art form. It is important to raise a generation that understands, values, and supports theater’s place in society.
tells the riveting story of the profound changes in the lives of kids, teachers, and parents in ten economically disadvantaged communities across the country that place their bets on the arts as a way to create great schools. The schools become caring communities where kids - many of whom face challenges of poverty, the need to learn English, and to surmount learning difficulties - thrive and succeed and where teachers find new joy and satisfaction in teaching. “Finally, it seems important to note one more feature of the arts that may explain their special role in the transformations described in this book. Among other qualities, the arts are attempts to understand both the common (experienced by most or all) and profound (of great seriousness and significance) aspects of what it means to be human. They explore experiences all of us are likely to have in our lifetimes – loss, love, fear, and moral confusions, for example. The arts strive to make visible and communicable that which eludes our general capacities to express, thus creating the possibility of forging connections between
people on the ground of basic human experience. I do not believe there is any other setting in schools that provides such an opportunity so well.” This book suggests an alternative vision of both the process and result of school reform. It points to reform that occurs not as a result of accountability measures, but as a natural transformation through the building of a new kind of community of learners, a community of creators. This book describes a “kinder, gentler” (to borrow from George
Bush, Sr.) approach to school change, not based so much on punitive accountability, but rather on an invitation to create an exciting, meaningful, and more beautiful school. It is always good to have some alternatives in mind when trying to tackle as large a problem as the improvement of our public schools. This book provides such an alternative. I hope we can learn the lessons it offers.”
Director, Project Zero
Director, Arts in Education Program,
Harvard Graduate School of Education
Theatre can empower individuals and communities. Theatre is a force that can unite, uplift, teach, build communities, inspire, and heal.
Fine arts are no frill and deserve funding
Published Friday, March 18, 2011
CORPUS CHRISTI — Renée Zellweger might have won an Academy Award without the theater courses she took at Katy High School. And it's possible that Norah Jones may have won multiple Grammy Awards even if she hadn't attended choir classes at Grapevine Junior High School. But in each of these cases, and in countless others, a quality fine arts education in Texas public schools is at the foundation of their success.
Fine arts courses in our schools enable students to develop their interest and talent in the arts at an early age, and every student benefits from fine arts courses, even when their future career successes are outside of music, acting, dance, or art.
In a state where high-stakes testing drives decisions on funding, staffing, and instructional minutes, fine arts programs are frequently a target when school budget cuts must be made. With the Legislature and school boards dealing with budget shortfalls of historic proportions, there is already evidence from districts across the state that fine arts programs are on the chopping block.
These programs often suffer because of a misguided perception that the arts are an extracurricular, non-essential part of education. Yet, nothing could be further from the truth.
Fine arts is part of the state-required curriculum that all school districts must offer from elementary through high school. Fine arts classes that meet during the school day are inarguably curricular by nature and by law.
As State Sen. Florence Shapiro, Chair of the Senate Education Committee, said in a press conference last week: "Fine arts courses are just as essential as every other part of the required curriculum. In fact, fine arts courses are becoming increasingly critical in preparing students for the 21st-century workforce."
During the last legislative session in a joint briefing to the House and Senate, best-selling business author Dan Pink advised legislators that the 21st-century workforce belongs to creative right-brain thinkers for whom the arts are a cornerstone of their development. Within that briefing, a NASA ISS systems engineer, an IBM master inventor, and an AT&T executive echoed Pink's convictions.
While it's clear that business leaders value arts education, the more than 1.4 million students enrolled in middle and high school fine arts courses today speaks to the fact that these programs are also valued across the state by students and parents. Elementary music, art, and theater teachers serve tens of thousands of students daily and are among the most dedicated and passionate teachers in our Texas classrooms.
Research studies also continue to offer resounding conclusions about the importance of arts education. In 2008, the Dana Foundation released a comprehensive study, "Learning, Arts, and the Brain," that for the first time reported a causal relationship between rigorous study in the arts and improved cognition. And a November 2010 Scientific American editorial that was headlined "Hearing the Music, Honing the Mind" stated, "Music produces profound and lasting changes in the brain. Schools should add classes, not cut them."
Finally, the Texas Cultural Arts economic study released in 2009 entitled "20 Reasons the Texas Economy Depends on the Arts and the Creative Sector" found an undeniable connection between support for the arts, a vibrant creative sector, and a strong economy. To quote that study, "During tough economic times it may seem intuitive to cut arts and culture initiatives, but these are the very projects that can help the economy recover."
Before school districts or the legislature propose wholesale cutting of fine arts programs to solve what is admittedly a critical public education funding crisis, they should remember their responsibility to educate the whole child. Because fine arts courses are academic and a vital component in delivering the well-rounded education required by law, they should not take a disproportionate share of staffing and budget cuts.
As former Texas congresswoman Barbara Jordan so eloquently stated in 1993, "The arts, instead of quaking along the periphery of our policy concerns, must push boldly into the core of policy. The arts are not a frill."
Robert Floyd is Executive Director of the Texas Music Educators Association and chairs the Texas Coalition for Quality Arts Education.
Research on the benefits of Arts Education
Fact Sheet About the Benefits of Arts Education for Children
Benefits of Arts Education
Source: Americans for the Arts, 2002
§ Stimulates and develops the imagination and critical thinking, and refines cognitive and creative skills.
§ Has a tremendous impact on the developmental growth of every child and has proven to help level the “learning field” across socio-economic boundaries.
§ Strengthens problem-solving and critical-thinking skills, adding to overall academic achievement and school success.
§ Develops a sense of craftsmanship, quality task performance, and goal-setting—skills needed to succeed in the classroom and beyond.
§ Teaches children life skills such as developing an informed perception; articulating a vision; learning to solve problems and make decisions; building self-confidence and self-discipline; developing the ability to imagine what might be; and accepting responsibility to complete tasks from start to finish.
§ Nurtures important values, including team-building skills; respecting alternative viewpoints; and appreciating and being aware of different cultures and traditions.
Source: Young Children and the Arts: Making Creative Connections, 1998, Introduction
§ Plays a central role in cognitive, motor, language, and social-emotional development.
§ Motivates and engages children in learning, stimulates memory, facilitates understanding, enhances symbolic communication, promotes relationships, and provides an avenue for building competence.
§ Provides a natural source of learning. Child development specialists note that play is the business of young children; play is the way children promote and enhance their development. The arts are a most natural vehicle for play.
§ We know that “art,” understood as spontaneous creative play, is what young children naturally do—singing, dancing, drawing, and role-playing. We also know that the arts engage all the senses and involve a variety of modalities including the kinesthetic, auditory, and visual. When caregivers engage and encourage children in arts activities on a regular basis from early in life, they are laying the foundation for—and even helping wire children’s brains for—successful learning.
Adults Agree on Importance of Arts Education
Source: Americans for the Arts national public opinion survey, January 2001
§ Ninety-one percent of respondents believe the arts are vital to a well-rounded education.
§ Ninety-five percent of respondents believe the arts teach intangibles such as creativity, self-expression, and individualism.
§ Seventy-six percent of respondents somewhat or strongly agree that arts education is important enough to get personally involved. However, just thirty-five percent of those who are closely involved in the life of a child have done so.
§ Sixty-seven percent say they do not know how to get involved.
§ Eighty-nine percent of respondents believe that arts education is important enough that schools should find the money to ensure inclusion in the curriculum.
§ Ninety-six percent agree the arts belong to everyone, not just the fortunate or privileged.
The Social and Academic Impact of Arts Education
Source: Eisner, E. W., Ten Lessons the Arts Teach, (January 1998)
§ Art is defined as something aesthetic to the senses. A “work of art” is both an activity and a result; it is a noun and a verb. “One of the great aims of education is to make it possible for people to be engaged in the process of creating themselves. Artists and scientists are alike in this respect.”
§ Arts curricula is typically process-driven and relationship based, so its impact on academic performance is often underestimated and undervalued. The arts provide a logical counterbalance to the trend of standardized testing and should not be marginalized just because the curriculum is more difficult to measure.
§ The emphasis and time given to a particular school subject sends a message to students about how important that subject is in life.
§ Arts programs, especially those including trained professionals, can help draw students out of “formal” ways of approaching relationships, outcomes, and perceptions.
§ The arts can play a crucial role in improving students’ abilities to learn, because they draw on a range of intelligences and learning styles, not just the linguistic and logical-mathematical intelligences upon which most schools are based. (Eloquent Evidence: Arts at the Core of Learning, President’s Committee on the Arts and Humanities, talking about Howard Gardener’s Theory of Multiple Intelligences, 1995)
The Physical and Sensory Impact of Arts Education
A student making music experiences the “simultaneous engagement of senses, muscles, and intellect. Brain scans taken during musical performances show that virtually the entire cerebral cortex is active while musicians are playing.” (Learning and the Arts: Crossing Boundaries, 2000, p. 14)
“Dramatic play, rhyming games, and songs are some of the language-rich activities that build pre-reading skills.” (Young Children and the Arts: Making Creative Connection, 1998, p. 1)
“Preschoolers who were given music keyboard lessons improved their spatial-temporal reasoning…used for understanding relationships between objects such as calculating a proportion or playing chess.” (Education Leadership, November, 1998, p. 38)
“Creative activity is also a source of joy and wonder, while it bids its students to touch, taste, hear, and see the world. Children are powerfully affected by storytelling, music, dance, and the visual arts. They often construct their understanding of the world around musical games, imaginative dramas and drawing.” (Hamblen, Karen A., Theories and Research That Support Art Instruction for Instrumental Outcomes, 1993)
“Regular, frequent instruction in drama and sign language created higher scores in language development for Head Start students than for a control group.” (Young Children and the Arts: Making Creative Connections, 1998, p. 1)
“Listening to music for just an hour a day changes brain organization…EEG results showed greater brain coherence and more time spent in the alpha state.” (Malyarenko, et al., 1996)
§ Research Supports Arts in Education
Performing Arts & Entertainment in Canada, Autumn, 2000 by Jenifer Milner
§ THE ARTS-IN-EDUCATION MOVEMENT IS NOT NEW. IN THE UNITED STATES, “A STUDY OF MORE THAN 30 YEARS OF AMERICAN ARTS IN EDUCATION HISTORY REVEALS CYCLES OF boom and bust, periods full of rhetorical promise and bursts of activity followed by long stretches of dashed expectations, withdrawn support and in some instances, abrupt abandonment of promising projects, programs, and initiatives.”
§ This waxing and waning of arts in education reflects to some extent quality-of-life versus man-as-commodity thinking. A society encouraging personal freedom, self-esteem, and contemplative living embraces the arts for their intrinsic worth, whereas a society driven by competition seeks knowledge and skills to increase one’s advantage and employability.
§ The drive towards traditional schools and a Three Rs education is more understandable in light of our floundering economy. (Traditional schools exist in Surrey, Langley, and Abbotsford; Richmond’s school board just approved the formation of a traditional school; and Vancouver’s school board will face the issue in the fall.) But who benefits the most from teacher-led traditional schools — students or parents?
§ Many of the problems associated with our school system today stem from a lack of student satisfaction: high dropout rates and truancy, poor grades, vandalism, and violence. Stressed educational budgets mean stressed teachers, less resources, more constraints, and inappropriate facilities. The list goes on.
§ It is ironic that arts in education appears to be something of a political bandwagon. The case for the arts in schools, once marginalized or slashed entirely from classrooms to save money or de-valued as an inconsequential frill, is gaining support. A substantial body of research now proves student satisfaction and engagement in learning increase with participation in the arts.
§ James Catterall, a UCLA researcher, studied 25,000 students in grades 8 to 10. He discovered that students “highly involved in arts programs” fare better in other subjects too and are “much less likely to drop out” of school or become uninterested in school life. Catterall’s study also shows that students from low-income families who participate in arts experiences are more likely to do better academically than those who do not.
§ Not only do students’ attitudes, attendance, abilities, and grades dramatically improve when the arts become part of their school life, but “research shows that arts education programs result in measurable gains in student motivation and achievement in reading, writing, and mathematics” — exactly what traditional school proponents want to accomplish.
§ With exceptions like Art Starts in Schools, a local nonprofit organization dedicated to bringing the arts to B.C.’s school kids, arts programming in Greater Vancouver Regional District schools has flourished independently and, for the most part, outside the core curricula. ArtStarts, a funding program administered by ArtStarts on behalf of the J.W. McConnell Family Foundation, is the first local foray into integrating the arts across the curriculum.
§ Thousands of dedicated parents, teachers, artists, arts organizations, and community groups are dedicated to producing arts programming or establishing arts-integrated curricula; they are to be commended. Research supports the benefits of arts in education to society, business, government, and schools. But let’s not lose sight of what arts experiences mean to children.
§ “Arts teachers daily ask their students to engage in learning activities which require use of higher-order thinking skills like analysis, synthesis, and evaluation. Arts education, then, is first of all an activity of the mind.
§ “Creative activity is also a source of joy and wonder, while it bids its students to touch and taste and hear and see the world. Children are powerfully affected by storytelling, music, dance, and the visual arts. They often construct their understanding of the world around musical games, imaginative dramas, and drawing.”
§ Sounds like the arts provide just about everything to nourish our children.
§ Jenifer Milner is the communications manager of the Vancouver Alliance for Arts and Culture.
§ Jenifer Milner “Research Supports Arts in Education“. Performing Arts & Entertainment in Canada. FindArticles.com. 21 Feb, 2010. http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m1319/is_2_33/ai_71634790/