A Whole New School District…

The future belongs to a very different kind of person with a very different kind of mind… artists, inventors, designers, storytellers, caregivers, consolers, big picture thinkers. Daniel Pink, A Whole New Mind

Last week, I attended a meeting of the Committee for Arts and Innovative Thinking at the Ohio Department of Education.  One of the presenters used this quote from Mr. Pink and it has remained with me since.  Many have already read A Whole New Mind (if not, I suggest that you do.  It has been around for a couple years and well worth the quick read.).

So why does this quote resonate so much now?  Perhaps it is anticipation of the Transformation Plan that the Cleveland Metropolitan School District will be unveiling in the next month.  I hope the administration there has read this book.  It is the kind of thinking that needs to take place to make a difference for Cleveland’s children.  They are the future of our community and we should be preparing them for this future.

According to Mr. Pink, we are hurtling into the Conceptual Age, where the majority of jobs will be held by people who create something or by people who are capable of empathizing with others. Most of these jobs will require care, humor, imagination, ingenuity, instinct, joyfulness, personal rapport, or social dexterity.  I believe that the arts can contribute significantly to the acquisition of many of these attributes.

But what about the academics?

A study released in November by the Florida Department of Education illustrates a powerful correlation between fine arts courses and higher academic success in the classroom.  The data (the study reviewed a 12th grade cohort of 188,859 students) showed that “…student indicators of success increase for students in direct correlation to the number of years in which a student is enrolled in school dance, music, theater and visual arts courses.”

The Florida data showed consistent patterns of correlation across all measures:

  • For all students: the more music and art classes taken, the higher the student achievement in such measures as graduation rate and GPA.
  • For students on free and reduced lunch and all ethnicities, the more music and arts classes taken the higher the student achievement in all measures.
  • The more arts classes taken, the less likely a student is to drop out of high school.

So back to the future and student success in Cleveland.  Numerous reports, studies, books and conferences have demonstrated that participation in the arts benefits ALL students — not just the “talented.” Young Audiences and all the arts community has been partnering with the District for many years to integrate the arts in classroom teaching to enhance student achievement.   We are all ready to do more.

Let’s imagine together what might be possible.

— Marsha Dobrzynski, Executive Director, Young Audiences of Northeast Ohio


One Response to A Whole New School District…

  1. Amy Martin says:

    I have two kids ages 9 and 11 and it is fascinating to see how art can help them in the education process. I feel like once schools can look at art as part of the curriculum, and not just one elective class, then we will see more well-rounded thinkers blooming. Excellent article and thanks for the info.

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