Over the weekend I discovered a wonderful, short clip from NBC News (shared below) where Principal Carolyn McKnight of East Los Angeles Performing Arts Academy speaks about how an education in the arts creates “smart, engaged, empowered, self-directed kids.” I couldn’t agree more. It’s a popular argument to say that the arts help boost students academically, improving their performance in reading and math. It’s an argument that is supported by a growing body of research, and it’s important, but I don’t believe higher test scores should ever be the primary reason students study the arts. I taught at a performing arts school in St. Louis much like the school featured in this clip. I witnessed the transformation that can occur when a student who has previously experienced mostly failure and disengagement in a school environment discovers their love for theatre, dance, music or visual art. They not only begin auditioning for plays, entering art exhibitions and performing in dance concerts; they also begin to run for student council, participate in service-learning projects and seek internships and opportunities outside of school. The arts can help kids achieve academically, it’s true, and the arts can also create thoughtful, engaged, and empowered future leaders in our communities.
Here’s the link. Enjoy!