We are all aware of the reasons why the arts are so important. Research has come at the issue from different angles- academic, social, socio-emotional, neurobiological.
Arts in schools help scaffold students into concepts beyond the arts classroom. The beauty of the arts is that while it is skill based it is also observational and interpretative. It cultivates a confident voice within students. It gives them a goal to work towards and teaches them to collaborate while developing their own style.
Arts in the public space help the audience experience another perspective, a different culture, and another’s vision. It increases the livability of a city and simultaneously increases our standard of living. It changes the way we socialize.
The challenge is in the way the arts are linked in education and in the public sphere. The education sphere is expected to generate students who seek performance or art making careers for the public sphere to thrive. Thus, arts education programs are perceived to be geared towards developing only these performance talents. This compels arts education organizations to focus on developing career oriented skills which becomes a challenge since the arts aren’t seen as a conventional career choice.
Scarsdale Strings has been able to rise above the challenge of changing attitudes, national standards and budget constraints. While we hone the performance talents of our students we emphasize on integrating the arts to teach concepts in science, math and literacy. The arts build a holistic community and in that vein we teach the arts as a community rooted discipline. Our model is inclusive and curricula are STEAM based- we assimilate special education students as well as ELL and ESL students.
Arts should be valued for art’s sake, but the way forward for the arts is to use it to teach other disciplines and use its governing principles to foster critical thought. When it’s taught the way Scarsdale Strings teaches it, it motivates students to stay in schools, meet national standards and prepare for college and the workforce.
Director of Education Research,