Why Care About Dance Education?


Did You Know? 

Young People Who Participate In The Arts For At Least Three Hours On Three Days Each Week For At Least One Full Year Are:   

• 4 times more likely to be recognized for academic achievement 
• 3 times more likely to be elected to class office within their schools 
• 4 times more likely to participate in a math and science fair 
• 3 times more likely to win an award for school attendance 
• 4 times more likely to win an award for writing an essay or poem 

Young Artists, As Compared With Their Peers, Are Likely To

• Attend music, art, and dance classes nearly three times as frequently 
• Participate in youth groups nearly four times as frequently 
• Read for pleasure nearly twice as often 
• Perform community service more than four times as often 

(Living the Arts through Language + Learning: A Report on Community-based Youth Organizations, Shirley Brice Heath, Stanford University and Carnegie Foundation For the Advancement of Teaching, Americans for the Arts Monograph, November 1998) 

The Facts Are That Arts Education: 

• Makes a tremendous impact on the developmental growth of every child and has proven to help level the "learning field" across socioeconomic boundaries.  (Involvement in the Arts and Success in Secondary School, James S. Catterall, The UCLA Imagination Project, Graduate School of Education & Information Studies, UCLA, Americans for 

• Has a measurable impact on at risk youth in deterring delinquent behavior and truancy problems while also increasing overall academic performance among those youth engaged in after school and summer arts programs targeted toward delinquency prevention. 

(YouthARTS Development Project, 1996, U.S. Department of Justice, National Endowment for the Arts, and Americans for the Arts) 

Businesses Understand That Arts Education: 

• Builds a school climate of high expectation, discipline, and academic rigor that attracts businesses relocating to your community. 
• Strengthens student problem-solving and critical thinking skills, adding to overall academic achievement and school success. 
• Helps students develop a sense of craftsmanship, quality task performance, and goal-setting skills needed to succeed in the classroom and beyond. 
• Can help troubled youth, providing an alternative to destructive behavior and another way for students to approach learning. 
• Provides another opportunity for parental, community, and business involvement with schools, including arts and humanities organizations. 
• Helps all students develop more appreciation and understanding of the world around them. 
• Helps students develop a positive work ethic and pride in a job well done. 

(Business Circle for Arts Education in Oklahoma, "Arts at the Core of Learning 1999 Initiative") 

Why Arts Education?  

What does arts education do for the individual and for society? Why do we teach the arts? How do the arts contribute to education on all levels? There are many good answers to these questions, but three stand out as crucial in today’s social and economic climate. 

We believe that arts and therefore arts education means three things that everyone wants and needs. 

1. The Arts Means Work 
Beyond the qualities of creativity, self-expression, and communication, art is a type of work. This is what art has been from the beginning. This is what art is from childhood to old age. Through art, our students learn the meaning of joy of work -- work done to the best of one’s ability, for its own sake, for the satisfaction of a job well done. There is a desperate need in our society for a revival of the idea of good work; work for personal fulfillment; work for social recognition; work for economic development. Work is one of the noblest expressions of the human spirit, and art is the visible evidence of work carried to the highest possible level. 

Today we hear much about productivity and workmanship. Both of these ideals are strengthened each time we commit ourselves to the endeavor of art. We are dedicated to the idea that art is the best way for every young person to learn the value of work. 

2. The Arts Means Language 
Art is a language of visual images that everyone must learn to read. In art classes, we make visual images, and we study images. Increasingly, these images affect our needs, our daily behavior, our hopes, our opinions, and our ultimate ideals. That is why the individual who cannot understand or read images is incompletely educated. Complete literacy includes the ability to understand, respond to, and talk about visual images. As art teachers we work continuously on the development of critical skills. This is our way of encouraging linguistic skills. By teaching pupils to describe, analyze, and interpret visual images, we enhance their powers of verbal expression. 

3. The Arts Mean Values 
You cannot touch art without touching values: values about home and family, work, and play, the individual and society, nature and the environment, war and peace, beauty and ugliness, violence and love. The great art of the past and the present deals with these durable human concerns. As art teachers we do not indoctrinate. But when we study the art of many lands and peoples, we expose our students to the expression of a wide range of human values and concerns. 

We sensitize students to the fact that values shape all human efforts, and that visual images can affect their personal value choices. All of them should be given the opportunity to see how art can express the highest aspirations of the human spirit. From that foundation we believe they will be in a better position to choose what is right and good.

(Why Art Education? was prepared by the National Art Education Association. http://www.dana.org/news/cerebrum/detail.aspx?id=23206)

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