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Arts help kids learn better for 6 practical reasons

November 25, 2009

A recent conference hosted by Johns Hopkins University and the Dana Foundation — and highlighted in The Answer Sheet column of the Washington Post — provided evidence for what many educators have long argued — that arts provide a practical and positive impact on how children learn.

The column quoted several practical reasons provided by conference keynote speaker Jerry Kagan, a researcher in developmental psychology, why the arts matter in school today:
– They provide a place for children to fit in and avoid giving up on school.
– They give children a sense of creating and doing things that have an impact on their world
– They give children a unique way to communicate that goes beyond words.
– They lift up the importance of creating an object of beauty, simply to give pleasure to others.
– They provide a chance for children to work together on a shared goal, developing a sense of morality and concern for others.
– They allow children to express their feelings, connecting to the kinds of self-expression that are shown to reduce illness and increase a sense of well-being.

With the Artists as Educators program which began in October, supported by the Community Foundation and coordinated by the Cultural Alliance of Greater Birmingham, we are seeing evidence of all these benefits for children in our Birmingham City Schools. It is good news when scientific studies provide support for what teachers tell us — incorporating the arts into the curriculum does make a positive difference in how our children learn and in how successful they can be.

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