Sunday, January 11, 2009

Introduction and Information

Wick Academy is a fine arts academy seeking to offer a unique curriculum, integrating Theatre, Creative Writing, and Visual Arts, to homeschooled students interested in seeking a more in depth fine arts education.

The importance and benefits of an arts education have been increasingly trivialized in today's education.  Every child stands to benefit greatly from an education rich in the arts.  Listed below are examples of why an arts education should be viewed as not just an option or an elective, but as a necessity to a well-rounded and full education.

Benefits of Arts Education
Source: Americans for the Arts, 2002

  • Stimulates and develops the imagination and critical thinking, and refines cognitive and creative skills.
  • Has a tremendous impact on the developmental growth of every child and has proven to help level the "learning field" across socio-economic boundaries.
  • Strengthens problem-solving and critical-thinking skills, adding to overall academic achievement and school success.
  • Develops a sense of craftsmanship, quality task performance, and goal-setting—skills needed to succeed in the classroom and beyond.
  • Teaches children life skills such as developing an informed perception; articulating a vision; learning to solve problems and make decisions; building self-confidence and self-discipline; developing the ability to imagine what might be; and accepting responsibility to complete tasks from start to finish.
  • Nurtures important values, including team-building skills; respecting alternative viewpoints; and appreciating and being aware of different cultures and traditions.

Source: Young Children and the Arts: Making Creative Connections, 1998, Introduction

  • Plays a central role in cognitive, motor, language, and social-emotional development.
  • Motivates and engages children in learning, stimulates memory, facilitates understanding, enhances symbolic communication, promotes relationships, and provides an avenue for building competence.
  • Provides a natural source of learning. Child development specialists note that play is the business of young children; play is the way children promote and enhance their development. The arts are a most natural vehicle for play.

The Social and Academic Impact of Arts Education 
Source: Eisner, E. W., Ten Lessons the Arts Teach, (January 1998)

  • Art is defined as something aesthetic to the senses. A “work of art” is both an activity and a result; it is a noun and a verb. “One of the great aims of education is to make it possible for people to be engaged in the process of creating themselves. Artists and scientists are alike in this respect.”
  • Arts curricula is typically process-driven and relationship based, so its impact on academic performance is often underestimated and undervalued. The arts provide a logical counterbalance to the trend of standardized testing and should not be marginalized just because the curriculum is more difficult to measure.
  • Arts programs, especially those including trained professionals, can help draw students out of “formal” ways of approaching relationships, outcomes, and perceptions.
  • The arts can play a crucial role in improving students’ abilities to learn, because they draw on a range of intelligences and learning styles, not just the linguistic and logical-mathematical intelligences upon which most schools are based. (Eloquent Evidence: Arts at the Core of Learning, President’s Committee on the Arts and Humanities, talking about Howard Gardener’s Theory of Multiple Intelligences, 1995)

The Physical and Sensory Impact of Arts Education 

A student making music experiences the “simultaneous engagement of senses, muscles, and intellect. Brain scans taken during musical performances show that virtually the entire cerebral cortex is active while musicians are playing.” (Learning and the Arts: Crossing Boundaries, 2000, p. 14)

“Dramatic play, rhyming games, and songs are some of the language-rich activities that build pre-reading skills.” (Young Children and the Arts: Making Creative Connection, 1998, p. 1)

“Preschoolers who were given music keyboard lessons improved their spatial-temporal reasoning…used for understanding relationships between objects such as calculating a proportion or playing chess.” (Education Leadership, November, 1998, p. 38)

“Creative activity is also a source of joy and wonder, while it bids its students to touch, taste, hear, and see the world. Children are powerfully affected by storytelling, music, dance, and the visual arts. They often construct their understanding of the world around musical games, imaginative dramas and drawing.” (Hamblen, Karen A.,Theories and Research That Support Art Instruction for Instrumental Outcomes, 1993)

“Regular, frequent instruction in drama and sign language created higher scores in language development for Head Start students than for a control group.” (Young Children and the Arts: Making Creative Connections, 1998, p. 1)

“Listening to music for just an hour a day changes brain organization…EEG results showed greater brain coherence and more time spent in the alpha state.” (Malyarenko, et al., 1996)

Source: Young Children and the Arts: Making Creative Connections, 1998, pp. 11–12

  • Dance helps build motor control, body relationships, and a sense of direction.
  • Drawing, sculpting, and other visual arts develop spatial acuity.
  • Group activities, such as learning dance steps or singing songs, build social skills.
  • As children describe people and things in their world using pictures, body movements, and mime, they enhance their descriptive, nonverbal, cognitive capabilities.
  • Repeating stories, poems, and songs strengthens memory.
  • The art supplies children choose for their work reflects their approach to process and outcomes.
    (Source: College Board, 2005. 2005 College-Bound Seniors: Total Group Profile.
  • Data from the College Board show that students who take four years of arts and music classes while in high school do better on their SAT score than students who took only one half year or less [1,084 vs. 997, respectively])

Where Wick Academy is different from merely offering instructions in drawing, or writing, or the like, is that Wick Academy offers an integrated curriculum, immersing children in the various art forms and encouraging students to play and explore the connections they can make using all forms of expression.  In this way, too, children will be introduced to an art form they may have otherwise been less likely to attempt and find that it is something they are either very skilled at or very passionate about.  

Wick Academy is still in the stages of development, but if you are interested in more information, please e-mail us at: wick.academy@gmail.com