Arts Education = Smarter Kids

March 11, 2007

Many parents, teachers and school administrators don’t seem to grasp the importance of the arts in the lives of young children and continue to vote in favor of cutting funds to arts-related programs in schools.

Little do they know that involvement in the arts has umpteen behavioral and psychological benefits that will (I think) not only make their kids smarter, but develop crucial social skills that will last them a lifetime.

According to the “Art. Ask for More.” national arts education public awareness campaign in the U.S., the arts:

  • Teach kids to be more tolerant and open.
  • Allow kids to express themselves creatively.
  • Promote individuality, bolster self-confidence, and improve overall academic performance.
  • Can help troubled youth, providing an alternative to delinquent behavior and truancy while providing an improved attitude towards school.

For the last 5 years, I have been involved in arts education in New York City via a non-profit organization known as the Bronx Arts Ensemble. When I had the time, I taught at as many as 6 different public schools a week, interacting with kids’ ranging from 5 to 16 years.

My job varied at each school. At one school, I may have been brought in to help create choreography for a play that a class was preparing, while at another, I was charged with introducing a certain dance style / technique (ballet, modern, jazz, salsa) to a group of students who had never before been exposed to dance (except in their living rooms, maybe).

We would meet anywhere we could find space. At most schools it was the stage in the school’s auditorium, however, at others the only room the kids and I could meet would be in their classroom. We would simply push aside their desks and try to move around in what space was left in the middle of the room.

One school in particular, CES (Community Elementary School) 109, continues to and will always remain very dear to my heart. It was the very first school that I taught at and it is the only school that I still teach at today – I may be stupid busy, but I find it hard to give this one up.

This term, I’m preparing the kids from the after-school program at CES 109 (4 groups and grades in total; Kindergarten, 1st Grade, 2nd Grade and 3rd Grade) for their end-of-Spring Term Performance, an adapted version of the musical ‘Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.’ Each group’s dance is based on the story of one of the four other kids in the story who initially enter the factory with Charile.

My Kindergarten class will be performing to ‘Augustus Gloop’ (the gluttonous kid). Music by Danny Elfman – Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (2005)
My 1st Grade class will be performing to ‘Veruca Salt’ (the spoilt British girl). Music by Danny Elfman – Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (2005)
My 2nd Grade class will be performing to ‘Violent Beaulegard’ (the girl who loved to chew gum). Music by Danny Elfman – Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (2005)
My 3rd Grade class will be performing to ‘Mike TeeVee’ (the boy who loved t.v.). Music by Danny Elfman – Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (2005)

Here are two fun (super-short) clips of 2 of my classes in rehearsal.

Augustus Gloop by my adorable Kindergarten Class

Mike TeeVee by my uber talented 3rd Grade Class


2 Responses to “Arts Education = Smarter Kids”

  1. nikkia Says:

    I just noticed that the audio and video are a little bit off in both of the youtube vids. I wish I knew how to fix that…anyway, you get the picture, right?

  2. Kirsty Says:

    hi Nikkia,

    your passion is really shown in this blog. I loved your idea of charlie and the chocolate factory intretations! Im studying to be a Primary school teacher at the moment, and it’s great to hear from someone who shares the same passion for arts as i do.

    Kirsty šŸ™‚

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