I’m going to be working at the California State Thespian Festival in a few weeks (April 8, 9, 10 2011) and, in thinking about how I want to approach the students this year, I’ve dug up some recent research on how being involved in the arts while attending school improves academic performance in other areas.
Now, these are all theater students so you’d think they really don’t need any additional reasons to stay involved in their theater classes. But that’s not necessarily the case.
I was blessed with supportive parents in high school. Whatever I wanted to try, they encouraged. Music, art, theater – all classes that lead down a road of limited career options. My parents, however, saw it differently. They somehow knew that being involved in the arts could have a profound impact on my life. And they were completely correct. That’s not to say that they didn’t ask me if I was absolutely sure that I wanted to be involved in the arts, because they did. They asked me (only once, to their credit) to consider what I’d do if my theater/artistic aspirations didn’t yield fruit. Despite my snottily-delivered, overly-confident answer of “I don’t need a Plan B”, they continued supporting my creative endeavors.
However, many students who attend theater classes in high school will not make their careers in theater because their parents reinforce the argument that the arts are a pleasant diversion, not a career path. Worse, many parents believe that the arts are a waste of time and detract from academic performance.
But what’s interesting is that being involved in the arts can make you smarter in other subjects, which is something most parents would be surprised to hear. There’s a great in-depth article, “Arts and Smarts – Test Scores and Cognitive Development” over on Sharp brains.com that is fascinating reading for those interested in this subject. An excerpt-
—In 2007, Lois Hetland and Ellen Winner published a book, Studio Thinking: The Real Benefits of Visual Art Education, that is so far one of the most rigorous studies of what the arts teach. “Before we can make the case for the importance of arts education, we need to find out what the arts actually teach and what art students actually learn,” they write.
Working in high school art classes, they found that arts programs teach a specific set of thinking skills rarely addressed elsewhere in the school curriculum—what they call “studio habits of mind.” One key habit was “learning to engage and persist,” meaning that the arts teach students how to learn from mistakes and press ahead, how to commit and follow through. “Students need to find problems of interest and work with them deeply over sustained periods of time,” write Hetland and Winner.—
Of course, theater isn’t what they studied, but the same thought-processes evident in the visual arts are also found in theater; and I’m inclined to believe the results would be the same.
You can read the full article here.
Alright everyone, it’s time to gather ‘round the ole Yule log with a fresh batch of egg nog and some pumpkin-bread (with cranberries) to review your Christmas list. Just in case you’re still looking for some stocking stuffers, allow me to suggest any of the following goodies that I’ve enjoyed this year. Click on the pics to see more info… Read the rest of this entry »
It’s that time of year again – what to get my husband/wife/spouse/brother/sister/etc… for Christmas/Chanukah/Kwanzaa/New Years/Boxing Day.
Allow me to suggest a wonderful treat that will not only nourish your creative life, but that will support others as well. Read the rest of this entry »
Here is the Ovation Nominee profile!
On Monday, November 15th at 7pm, many of the nominees for the 2009/2010 LA Stage Alliance Ovation Awards gathered at a new arts facility (Inner City Arts) on skid row in downtown L.A. We were welcomed into a beautiful venue and given nametags and “O!” pins, then encouraged to mingle around the bar and buffet. A live jazz combo filled the crisp autumn air with snappy tunes as the nominees chatted amongst themselves and with other notable L.A. theater people. Read the rest of this entry »
I’ve been asked (quite a bit) how to find a good lighting designer. It’s a simple question with no easy answer – so here are some clarifying, specific related questions – which do have fairly straightforward answers. Read the rest of this entry »
Here’s a great speech from creativity expert Ken Robinson, proposing the idea that many schools kill creativity, an opinion with which I whole-heartedly agree. Enjoy
The Chance Theater production of “Jesus Hates Me” closed last weekend at South Coast Repertory in Costa Mesa, CA and it was a brief but great run.
The Chance Theater (where the show was initially performed in January 09) was approached about doing this show last year and jumped at the opportunity. South Coast Rep had been looking for ways to partner with other theaters in Orange County and make use of its Nicholas Studio space. It seems they thought our show would be a good fit. Read the rest of this entry »