Love Letters to Arts and Education

September 7, 2011

To celebrate National Art in Education week, Young Audiences held a contest in August in which anyone could write an essay of 100 words or less to try to win a free arts education program for their school.

We received 71 entries from a variety of parents, teachers, principals, PTA presidents, schools and organizations in Northeast Ohio.  We enjoyed reading all the entries and love knowing that there are so many people who, like us, believe in the power of the arts in changing children’s lives.

Here are the 20 winners and their essays.  Congratulations! These schools have a Young Audiences artist coming to their location the week of September 12-16.

We spend a lot of time teaching our children to spell, to do math, to remember dates in world history. And that is all really important. But today’s changing world means that many of these kids will end up in careers that don’t even exist today.  Keeping up with the transformations that technology is bringing will require them to THINK, and do it creatively. Through learning to appreciate the intricacies of classical music, the elegance of dance, the tension in a drama or the subtleties of a painting, children arouse the limitless creative possibilities of their minds.
— Arrowhead Primary School, Copley

Students learn in different ways and arts offer viewpoints that may make a concept more understandable. Arts teach an appreciation for life by developing imaginations, which in turn helps generate prior knowledge and meaningful engagement in learning. With the ability to view the world from many perspectives including the arts, children gain a wealth of prior knowledge.  Prior knowledge helps children relate to new information. Not only do the arts offer the ability to gain prior knowledge, bu they support imagination and creativity, and where there is imagination and a love of learning, there is a love of life.
–Holy Spirit Academy, Cleveland

In today’s times there are many cut backs and slim budgets effecting our children.  We are concerned with student achievements but are not giving them to tools to be successful.  We need to provide our children with an Art program, by doing this we will be giving them more the coloring books and crayons.  We will giving them the power of communiation.  They will be able to express their troubles and the joys of living on paper and share them with the world.  Art will bring the cultures to the children that are outside of their own. Cultures and designs from across the world can be learned through an Art program. Art allows the children to be flexible in their thinking.  Creativity is the key to the power of Art and the joy it brings our children.
–Brentmoor School, Mentor

When children have art activities, it gives them an opportunity to express their visual world freely and colorfully. For young children, especially, art allows children to speak visually instead of audibly. Children learn about their communities, surroundings, and culture through art. Art is also important because it the one subject that has no right or wrong answer, it is creative expression. It has been recorded that coloring is the number one activity that children love to do. Art is excellent for spatial intelligence. For children who have special needs or a lot of energy, activities such as coloring, painting, molding clay, sculpting, or ceramics relaxes children. Art teaches them to think openly and focus on the details around them. The epitome of art is freedom expression.
–East End Neighborhood House

Serving as principal of two different types of arts’ schools, I have seen firsthand the positive impact of the arts on ALL students–not just those who have a special talent in an arts area.  The arts empower students to focus on creativity.  They enable students to “think outside the box” and not be penalized for it.  Study of the arts engages students’ entire brains and because of that they develop better language skills, achieve more academically, are less likely to drop out of school, and become a part of a positive learning environment.  Students get VERY excited about learning!
–Falcon Academy of Creative Arts

Brain research has confirmed that Arts Education strengthens student problem-solving and critical thinking skills, which adds to overall academic achievement and success. Art classes also provide students a chance to develop cognitive and creative skills. I strongly believe that the Arts teach our students to be more accepting and open through having a more multicultural and historical perspective. Regular participation in the Arts also develops self-confidence, self-discipline, persistence, and the knowledge of how to make multiple revisions to create a high quality piece of work. ‘The true sign of intelligence is not knowledge but imagination” Albert Einstein (1879-1955)
–Helen Muraski Elementary, Strongsville

Arts in Education are an important part of a child’s academic life.  The arts provide a creative and fun outlet for students and a change from the traditional classroom setting. Children may experience things they would have not otherwise had the opportunity to do.    When children are actively engaged they tend to listen better and retain more.  It also helps to reinforce what they have learned in the classroom.  Children will become more well-rounded students for experiencing the arts at school.
–Hilton Elementary, Brecksville-Broadview Heights

Arts-the foundation for framing the brain to learn the state required material to pass standards.
Arts-one of the areas first affected by reductions
Arts-a love or passion for the creative side of the brain
Arts-an area to develop if we had funding
Arts-what we need to instill in students as an area of creativity, a release from the tensions of their world
–Isham Elementary, Wadsworth

The arts are important because they provide students with a more well-rounded education. They are an enjoyable way for students to learn about creativity, dedication, and self expression, which can be applied in many other areas of education as well as outside of school.  An arts classroom is a place to push your creative limits, share work with others, and interact with like-minded students. It takes learning outside of the textbooks and teaches unique, memorable lessons and fosters connections with others.
–Lakewood High School

Arts are invaluable in education! They teach critical thinking, collaboration, creativity. They connect to math, languages, science, social studies, and the other arts. The arts require the whole body, creating multiple brain pathways for learning. Children studying the arts participate fully; there is no “phoning it in.” Employers value the independence fostered by arts study. Each student has a critical part to play, without which the whole does not work. The arts offer lifelong learning opportunities. From birth through old age, people can participate and learn the arts, enhancing their lives and making them more productive citizens. Arts are important!
–Mayfield Center Elementary School, Mayfield

The arts expose students to a variety of cultures, which not only enrich their learning experience but expand their worldview.  It teaches them empathy, tolerance, and how to work well with others.  All necessary skills needed to be successful in today’s global market and our multi-cultural society.
–Memorial Junior High School, South Euclid

The Arts are like rungs on a ladder, the dish holding ice cream, or glue that binds part together.  What is learned in academic classes can be applied and experimented with in an arts setting. This setting enables the brain to draw from past experiences or be challenged to find solutions or meanings.  The Arts provide opportunities to stand, move, or use the body in different ways as well. They stimulate the senses and grow the imagination resulting in the body and mind working together to provide a feeling of adventure and success.
–North Ridgeville High School

The arts are essential in education for the primary purpose of enabling our children to be problem-solvers, critical and creative-thinkers, and most importantly to have the courage to ask “why?”  The arts provide ways for our children to express themselves through their imaginations and help them to gain confidence in school and in life.   Dance, music, drama, visual and written arts are the keys to unlock a child’s full potential.  As a mother and former teacher, I whole-heartedly believe in the arts in schools.  Without them, our children may not discover the beauty and the potential that lies inside all of us.
–Northwood Elementary, North Canton

Integrating the Arts Into My Curriculum
I see… Motivated students engaged in hands-on learning experiences, challenged to think at higher levels.
I hear… Voices of collaboration as students brainstorm, problem solve, and create.
I feel… Excitement and energy.  The learning process is enhanced through the Arts.
I communicate… High expectations.  My students produce quality work.  Student achievement increased by providing different pathways to learning.
I visualize… Geometric shapes in a ballet dancer’s routine, Norman Rockwell paintings in a Decade’s Unit, and the song “Hero” inspiring service learning.
I believe… “Creativity does not have to be sacrificed to meet the standards.”
–Orange High School

This winter, there will gymnasiums full of students on risers waiting to perform. There’s one thing they probably won’t have had to practice – their smiles. As the lights come up, their smiles will shine.

Through their exposure to the arts, these children will have improved academic achievement in the classroom and on standardized tests. They will have improved concentration, confidence and teamwork skills. Finally, these children will have better intellectual, critical thinking and social skills.

The children on the risers will not just be signing, dancing and having fun; they will be evolving into successful, contributing members of our society.
–Rootstown Elementary, Rootstown

The Frenchmen said that art is a mere imitation of nature. By the time that theory had been debunked, the impact of art on the world was more profound. Art in education is a means of seeing nature and the world as someone else sees it. Art in education is explanatory and presents a point of view. Art in educations allows you to formulate your own point of view. Art in education allows you to create and develop ideas that were not apparent to you until you created. Art in education is protean and recreational in the most powerful sense of that word.
–Shaw High School, Cleveland

The Arts are necessary in education because – the Arts are the most direct form of communication involving the emotional side of humanity, which needs to be just as developed in people as the data (information) management side.  Arts participation can foster the development of technical precision while simultaneously providing opportunities for spontaneous personal expressiveness and creativity, often involving both significant kinesthetic activity and deep mental processes.  It demands solitary practice time to develop one’s command, yet frequently requires productive interaction with others in order to succeed.  No single academic subject can develop all these realms of vital human activity.
–University School

Arts Education is important because it allows children to be creative, use their imaginations, express themselves in different ways, and boost confidence.  These are all skills and learning experiences that are needed to help children with their other studies and in their daily lives.
–Urban Community School, Cleveland

Developmental psychologist, Howard Gardner’s theory of multiple intelligences emphasizes the benefits of the arts in education in the development of successful adults. Unfortunately, our schools must focus more of their energies on the verbal, logical, and mathematical and less on the spatial, kinesthetic, rhythmic, and musical.

In before and after school care, we have a unique opportunity to develop and promote the arts without the constraints of academic mandates. Children come to us eager to move, sing, play, and perform. The only barrier is the funding needed to bring in wonderful programs such as those offered by Young Audiences.
–Parma Schools (school TBD)

There are many components to creating a well-rounded student, with academics being the foundation.  But the Arts add a unique, creative, and multidimensional aspect to education that cannot be replicated.  Multiple studies have shown how the arts enhance problem solving and critical thinking skills, and can have a “balancing effect” in the socio-economic divisions in students by bolstering developmental growth.  Self-confidence, imagination, and team-building skills are traits developed by arts programs that become tools used throughout life. 
–Streetsboro Schools (school TBD)

Self-Expression. A simple term, but one rarely used as a form of healthy child-rearing. Childhood and adolescence are all about finding out what makes you tick – what your likes and dislikes are, what motivates you, and how you handle yourself in different situations. The Arts is a crucial way to explore all of these elements of youth. Through theatre, visual arts, music, and literature, a child has the opportunity to self-explore and grow. The arts can inspire kids to grow into themselves, and out of labels and stereotypes forced upon them.
Bring back more ARTS to our schools!
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–North Ridgeville City Schools (school TBD)

If you did not win a free program but are interested in learning more about Young Audiences, we offer arts education programs that are affordable and can fit within almost any budget.  We can also help you find funding for arts programming in your community.  We encourage you to contact us at requests@yaneo.org or 216-561-5005 so we can discuss possibilities with you. Or visit our website at www.yaneo.org to see all of our programs and artists.

Young Audiences has always been proud of its artists, but this week we are especially so.  Not only are they incredibly talented at their art forms and love working with children, they are also very generous! We want to give a big thank you to our artists who are volunteering their time to make this free arts education programming available to the community for Art in Education Week.

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