Creativity and Education

When we think of creativity, we often think of things like painting, writing and other artistic endeavors. But at the root, creativity is about creating something new, coming up with interesting ideas. The ability to enhance creativity can serve us well in all areas of life. Creative thinking gets us outside the box where we can better solve problems, come up with innovative ideas and make ourselves, our projects, our relationships, personal lives and our companies more successful.

School is supposed to prepare students to become successful adults, but many believe the strong focus on rote learning and the lack of attention to fostering creativity is a major problem in today’s educational system.

Creativity in schools, whether it is a stand-alone subject or integrated into the overall curriculum, can help students become more well-rounded and may even improve their general academic performance. If we want to give our children the best chances for success in life, we cannot just teach them facts, we need to teach them how to develop themselves and their minds.

In 2002, University of California Los Angeles researchers studied a database of over 25,000 middle school and high school children and found a link between high involvement in the arts and improved performance on standardized tests. These findings indicate that what we learn in one area can translate to other areas.

How students engage their mind in creative activities may help in academic subjects. Music instruction can enhance spatial-temporal reasoning, which could help in the study of mathematics. Studying art and reasoning about what a student sees may help him apply this same reasoning when studying scientific subjects. Dance may help foster creative thinking, especially in the areas of fluidity, abstract thought and originality.

The National Assembly of State Arts Agencies, or NASAA, reports arts education may help with one very important standardized test in particular, a test that can determine where a child receives her higher education– the SATs.

It reports that students in the arts were found to score better on both the verbal and mathematics section compared to students who did not take any of these types of classes. Another interesting finding was that the more involved a student was in the arts, the higher his score. This certainly lends value to furthering ones education by pursuing an art degree. In fact, the students who took at least four years of arts education scored an average of 58 points higher on verbal and 38 points on the math section compared to a student who had one-half a year’s instruction or less in arts education.

Arts education may not only help children become better students, it may help them become more well-rounded individuals overall and aid in their social and emotional development.

The University of California Los Angeles Study also found that students more involved in the arts watched fewer hours of television, reported being less bored in school and spent more time doing community service. Allowing students to study creative arts can enhance self-confidence, increase curiosity to learn about new things, promote self-discovery, foster tolerance for differences among people and increase cooperation and collaboration.
According to the Philadelphia Social Innovations Journal, research has shown students with disabilities who participate in drama education have learned to be more courteous, interact with peers better and express and manage their emotions more successfully; the study noted these types of skills could aid them later in life in areas such as job interviewing and maintaining employment.

Closing Thoughts
Available research certainly suggests that arts education is of immense benefit to children academically, socially and emotionally. Even without the evidence to back it up, it makes sense. Arts educations allows students to express themselves and get to know themselves better—both integral ingredients for finding what they are good at and what they want to do with their lives. How they engage their mind during these activities seems to translate to greater understanding and performance in academic subjects. Allowing students to study creative subjects appears to provide benefits that are far-reaching and may improve their lives overall.

Featured Image: The Hand of a Child on Shutterstock

About the Author: Kelli Cooper is a freelance writer who covers a wide range of topics. If you are interested in learning about how a customized tutoring program can help you child succeed in school, visit School Tutoring Academy.

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