A Sense of Growth and Belonging: The Value of Arts Education as told by LI Dance Students
September 24th, 2019
The week of September 8th marked Arts Education Week. According to the National Arts Education Association, “Arts education, comprising a rich array of disciplines including dance, music, theatre, media arts, literature, design, and visual arts, is a core academic subject and an essential element of a complete and balanced education for all students.”
During Arts Education week the LI dance classes took time to reflect on the value of arts in school.
Dance students from grades 8-12 replied that having access to arts during the school day was more than fun. Yes, it was shared that classes like art, music, dance, and theater provided a break from the routine of academics; that these classes are an opportunity to step away from the stressors of the day and often help change peoples’ attitudes and outlooks for the positive. But, students touched upon all aspects of their development as young adults by taking art classes.
Socially, students signed up for art classes because they had more opportunities to collaborate, be creative, explore self-expression, and have the opportunity to share skills and knowledge to help others improve in their learning and abilities. These social benefits establish a stronger community and a sense of belonging.
To feel good in a community, one needs to feel good about who they are and those around them. Trust, confidence, respect, and responsibility are in the hands of the students in arts education. Emotionally, students grow in motivation, energy, and perseverance to continue to learn by reflecting and revising. Being given the opportunity through formative assessments to create by planning, exploring, and then presenting/performing work, students gain courage and professionalism that can support them well beyond the art classroom and into other aspects of their lives.
The arts develop an awareness of self and others, appreciation for diversity, and the ability to make connections into other areas of life. Cognitively, the arts offer students the chance to learn something new, set dreams for their career or college plans, build the ability to focus and manage/accommodate for learning disabilities, apply wellness practices for lifelong health or sports skills (balance, coordination, alignment, physical awareness), and keep the neurons in one’s brain firing to increase readiness for the rest of the day.
Some sentiments expressed by our dance students:
“I am here because this is my community.”
“This is my family.”
“I belong here and I can be me in the arts.”
“The arts define me and give me a new perspective on life.”
“Thank you arts education.”
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