Art education benefits students in rural communities
Art education works even harder for rural communities than for their urban neighbors. While all students benefit from arts and arts-integrated education, study after study has shown that the arts help students in rural communities even more than those living in cities and large suburbs.
A 3-year research and development program called Project ARTS (Arts for Rural Teachers and Students) found that rural communities like ours are often rich in culture and heritage, but these things are too often left out of the curriculum in rural schools (Clark, G., & Zimmerman, E., 2000).
By studying art, music and oral traditions; watching local artisans share their skills; and making art themselves, students can gain a much stronger and richer understanding of their own community, its history and cultures. This, in turn, helps young people develop greater confidence, perspective, awareness and appreciation for their own identity, and how it fits into their larger community and world.
Although I absolutely understand the place for and value of standardized curriculum in our public schools, this has tended to come at the cost of even basic arts and arts-integrated learning, which can bring with it, serious limitations to young people’s full development as human beings.
As a teacher and a parent, I’ve also witnessed the powerful impact that integrating visual, musical, performance and other arts into students’ learning of any subject can have. And I’ve been impressed when my own children’s teachers have recognized the value of cultivating the creative aspects of their students’ learning. I hope that we would support our teachers in and our schools in their good efforts to provide a rich and well-rounded education.
Snow College Instructor, Department of Visual Arts