Letter to the Editor: Arts education vital to success of area’s students

August 10th, 2016 6:10 pm

With the evolution of “STEAM” (science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics) coming to the forefront of education, area school districts are taking huge steps backward when eliminating arts programs.

To successfully move through the 21st century, students will need to actively participate in 21st-century skills that include hands-on skills, project-based learning, critical thinking, problem solving, collaboration, communication, creativity and innovation. The arts teach and allow students time to create, present, respond and connect. In other words, the arts teach students to ask essential questions, and challenge them to respond and evaluate.

As educators, we must be practitioners, applying disciplines that are relevant to the times and to our students. Many studies show that STEM learning alone is not successful for today’s students. Science, technology, engineering and math education flourish when the arts are used as a nucleus.

Schools that teach mindfulness and offer creative modes of learning, in which students have a voice in the learning approach, show better attendance rates because students are passionate about their learning. Students throughout this area have voiced their desire for arts education, and if we wish to keep and serve our customers – our students, our future leaders – we must answer their call.

Schools looking to develop 21st-century skills should be forming STEAM teams for teachers and students. The arts and STEM subjects all engage students in the scientific process. Albert Einstein said: “After a certain high level of technical skill is achieved, science and art tend to coalesce in esthetics, plasticity and form. The greatest scientists are always artists as well.”

It is time that area schools hop on board the STEAM train leading to a renaissance in education, before we are left at the station in the dark (ages).

Members of school districts within the state who do not feel equitably supported in the arts may email or write to their state representative to request equitable funding laws.

Peggy Schutz Mullin

Hanover Township

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