Jay P. Greene is an education researcher who leads the related doctoral program at the University of Arkansas. He has done several well-respected (and unusual for the field) studies on the importance of arts education, particularly how visiting art museums and viewing live theater help students develop interpersonal skills, historical knowledge, and thinking skills.

So, naturally, he was invited to weigh in on a trend many parents may have seen for Education Week, the leading education newspaper. It’s sometimes called arts integration, or arts education, or “STEAM” for “science, technology, engineering, arts, and math.” Dr. Greene says this idea has good motivations but usually isn’t effective in classrooms at helping children actually develop artistic skills or mental benefits.

Here are some excerpts from his article, and you can read the whole thing on his blog. To learn more about Redeemer Classical’s approach to arts education, which we consider essential to our core curriculum, please click here.

…the best way to ensure that students are exposed to the arts is to set aside regular times in the school day for arts education to be taught by designated arts teachers in separate arts classrooms. If arts instruction is integrated into science, math, and other subjects, schools will be tempted to curtail separate arts classes and staff. School leaders could claim that the arts are being covered at other times, in other places, and by other staff, so there is less need to set aside specific time for the arts. By trying to put the arts almost everywhere, integration is likely to result in arts education almost nowhere…

It is pedagogically unsound to integrate all disciplines, especially when teaching young children, because it demands that students combine knowledge they do not yet possess. Students cannot gain new insights from the connections between geometry and the arts until they first have some mastery of those subjects. We cannot expect students to run before they can walk…

The arts teach particular ways of thinking about and viewing the world. The arts teach some vocationally useful skills. And most importantly, the arts connect us to our cultural heritage and teach us how to be civilized human beings. Education is not entirely about the pragmatic, but should also convey the beautiful and profound—something the arts do well. That is why arts education should be preserved in its own right.

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