“I would teach children music, physics, and philosophy; but most importantly music, for the patterns in music and all the arts are the keys to learning.” - Plato
This article by Theodore Buchholz, Assistant Professor of Cello at the University of Arizona, was originally published in the fall of 2014, but continues to be shared as an important message to parents who may be enrolling their children into schools and courses in the coming months. It has been formatted onto the SHAR Blog with permission from Theodore Buchholz.
The new school year begins this week, and many parents sit at kitchen tables weighing and selecting their children’s classes for the year. The current educational trend pushes a hard sell for STEM courses: Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math. But this push comes with an unfortunate pruning of the arts. But a child’s education must flower fully: petals and all. After all, a STEM alone is not very beautiful.
The arts are incredibly important for a child’s full development. These classes open students to that awe-inspiring ineffable experience. Participation in an everyday arts course develops the part of a student’s mind that fosters creativity, emotion, and appreciation for the human experience. All of which enhances your child’s cognitive ability to excel in other subjects: the keys to learning. No wonder Plato valued the arts so much.
As a music educator, I have personally seen the amazing impact of music programs. I’ve seen students on the edge of dropping out transformed. I’ve seen high risk students discover pride in their overall education because of music. Students involved in arts programs do tend to develop a sense of interest and ownership in their entire education. As a university professor, I’ve also seen music scholarships enable students to attend college, even when they’re not going to major in music.
Research has overwhelmingly shown the enormous cognitive benefits of arts education. One study found that students studying music showed significantly improved IQ scores compared to students who were given computer lessons. The entire mind needs to be educated, including the creative and expressive skills that arts courses uniquely nurture.
Artistic creativity is just as important as other subjects. Knowing computer coding and calculus is great, but it’s the creative application of that knowledge that changes the world. Involving your children in the arts offers real creative and cognitive benefits. These students will be the ones who find the patterns that unlock the mysteries, issues, and challenges of the future.
Enroll your child in an arts class this year. Take advantage of the music, dance, theater, or other programs that many public schools offer. 2500 years ago Plato noted that students schooled in the arts had learning keys that enabled success in school and in life. The only difference today is that we have more scientific data that justifies this. Hand your child these learning keys, promote the arts, and nurture your child’s full education.
Dr. Theodore Buchholz is the Assistant Professor of Cello at the University of Arizona, and is the Past-President of the American String Teachers Association of Arizona. This blog has been formatted and published with his permission. Subscribe to the SHAR Blog for interesting blogs, strings-related news, product reviews, and company announcements.