Without a doubt, the buzziest buzz word in education is STEM, which stands for science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. But some argue that, since children derive such great benefits from the arts, that acronym should be changed to STEAM, to highlight the importance of creative endeavors.
According to Lisa Phillips’ book The Artistic Edge: 7 Skills Children Need to Succeed in an Increasingly Right-Brained World, kids learn skills such as confidence, creativity, problem-solving, perseverance, accountability, focus, and non-verbal communication from the arts. Studies have shown that the benefits of an arts education for low-income children are even greater. But many kids drop out of after-school arts programs when they hit the tricky tween years (ages 10 to 13).
To curb the rate of abandonment, Peter Rogovin and Denise Montgomery conducted a survey for the Wallace Foundation. They interviewed 250 tweens in seven different cities across the country and spoke to directors of successful arts programs. The tweens said that they desire accomplished teachers who are practicing artists, and they want their arts programs to culminate in a public event at which they can show off what they learned to an audience. (Turns out, kids don’t mind preparing for that piano recital after all.)
Not surprisingly, tweens also want to use current technology to engage with the arts, and they want to get right down to making art, music, or videos, rather than hearing a lecture about it first. (This infographic, provided by the Wallace Foundation, illustrates some of their findings.)
This study demonstrates why programs like The Harmony Project in Los Angeles, which provides music instruction to kids in poverty, are particularly important. Not only does their work enhance children’s cognitive development, but it also helps prevent them from joining gangs. And that, is music to our ears.
MORE: Music Can Change A Troubled Kids’ Life. Here’s the Proof.