Arts and 21st Century Learning Arts Education Newsletter The Arts and Lifelong Learning

Why the Arts Matter

About 20 years ago I met a young musician who told me a story I’ll never forget. If you have ever wondered about the value of the arts—especially the process of performing music, dance, or theater, or making visual art—her story shows how the arts provide an opportunity to learn how to live a more creative and successful life.

orchestra-conductorStudents, families, and impassioned, innovative, thriving communities can grow with the guidance of teachers and artists who are deeply connected to the potential of the arts to provide comprehensive and relevant 21st century skill sets. This matters because our children—in fact all of us—are facing an increasingly challenging world that changes every day. It’s a world that’s asking us to think in new ways.

The arts enable us to have experience we can have from no other source
and through such experience to discover the range and variety
of what we are capable of feeling.

~ Elliot W. Eisner, former Stanford Professor and champion of arts education

Emily’s story changed my life. She grew up in a remote area and lived with her father and brothers. It was a strict household with rules that didn’t allow her to express herself or interact with other people. She was self-conscious and quiet, and she struggled to find a way to break her silence. But after she started school, a teacher got her interested in music. She was encouraged to take beginning band in 5th grade, and her life changed forever. She took her school flute home on the long bus ride every day and found a place far from the house where she could practice. In just a few months, her teachers were shocked. Her flute playing improved, but she also started to speak in full sentences; she asked questions and volunteered answers. These were things she’d never done before. Although she was still shy, she laughed and connected with other people. Her grades improved dramatically, and that kind of growth continued all the way through high school.

Read more from the February 2017 Newsletter: Why the Arts Matter