This missive is a call to revolutionize our education system, a plea to reshape a 19th-century industrial model into a dynamic forum for learning 21st-century skills. Rather than doubling down on the standardized testing of the three “R’s” — readin’, [w]ritin’ and ’rithmetic — this is a battle cry for support in developing the four “C’s”: critical thinking, creativity, collaboration and communication in an arts-integrated learning environment.
The arts, you say?
Research gathered by the Arts Education Partnership (ArtsEdSearch.org) confirms the efficacy of an arts education for all children. In school, it boosts literacy and English language arts skills and advances math achievement. It engages students and motivates them to learn while developing critical thinking skills. It fosters a positive culture and climate in schools and contributes to increasing teacher satisfaction and lowering teacher turnover rates.
Other individual attributes include stronger collaboration and communication abilities, strengthened perseverance and better cross-cultural understanding, thus developing communities filled with more creative and civic-minded individuals.
This call to action is not simply about incorporating visual arts, theater, dance and music classes into every school, but to fully integrate art teaching techniques across all curriculum levels and elevate the status of arts learning.
Utah is making inroads at the elementary level through programs such as the Beverley Taylor Sorenson Arts Learning Program. Programming support is needed at the secondary level and in rural communities across the state. If Utah is truly a place about family, then let us demonstrate it in legislative and financial support for a dynamic, 21st-century education model for our children.
Georgiana Kennedy Simpson, Bluff