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Students Show Value of Learning Through the Arts

What if you take mathematical sequences and turn them into rhythms and songs? Or take geometry, ratios, and Pythagorean theorem and turn all of that into 3D animal masks. Then again, you might take a social studies topic like genocide or racism and turn it into a dance. You might also want to teach nutrition and health in a unique way- taking produce from your classroom tower garden and having students design a salad-like object that resembles themselves. A salad self-portrait the students can eat! This is all one side of learning through the arts. That is one part where you take academic subject matter and make art.

The other side is where you can teach academic subject matter using art. The real gimmes are where you use visual artworks or music to teach history. Art reflects the society of the day, so why not use it? There are other ways. In physics, you can use Boomwhackers (plastic tubes that are not specific) to illustrate sound waves. Different notes = different sound waves. You can also teach matter through dance. Having students dance to music over a large area means they are representing the gas state of matter. Dancing in a small area is the liquid state, and dancing tightly together, they become a solid state.

Using creativity and imagination, students find a deeper meaning to learning as there can be both a visual and kinetic association with the learning. They don't forget because they apply the knowledge to a project and have the license to think creatively for themselves.

At Studio9 School of the Arts, we allow the student to design these art/academic projects and then perform gallery or demonstrate the learning to their parents in events at the school. This brings additional thought, work, and creativity; but also adds that all-important collaboration aspect.

This latest deep dive into the value of arts in learning was published in March 2022 by Erica Halverson and Keth Sawyer ( and concludes the following:

"This new research challenges the common view that the arts are somehow intellectually undemanding, are simply emotive or expressive (Eisner, 2002). We agree with Eisner that "the arts can serve as a model for teaching the subjects we usually think of as academic" (2002, p. 196). After all, if schools hope to teach STEM in ways that lead to creativity, critical thinking, and the ability to build knowledge collaboratively, those classrooms will look a lot like the art learning environments studied in this special issue. Creativity in STEM looks a lot like creativity in the arts; they share the same habits of mind and the same embodied practices, the same collaborative dynamics, and engagement with social and cultural context.

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