Robust arts curricula encourage students to pursue careers in the field
- Kevin Lane gives his students an opportunity he never had as a child: recording music in a studio at Woodstation Elementary School in Rock Spring, Ga.
- Educators say technology is making music production more reachable for students by letting schools adopt iPads, for example, instead of expensive recording equipment. At Woodstation, children mix sound, record vocals and create music tracks with computers, tablets and some apps at a lower cost than launching a school band or orchestra, wrote Education Week.
- Some music instructors have qualms about the new technology-based approach, concerned that students aren’t learning the basics of music or even how to play an instrument. Others, however, are coming around, including Richard Maxwell, who teaches band and runs a music recording program at Arcadia High School in Phoenix, Ariz. The program is offered along with the school’s orchestra and band, giving students both technological and traditional avenues to follow if they choose.
Schools are eager to show students what their lives could look like after graduation. Plenty of programs offer hands-on learning lessons and engage with community groups and workplaces to help children develop skills they may need when they finish their educations. These programs, however, tend to lean toward academic abilities, particularly those around STEM subjects.
Some administrators are also interested in helping students who are looking to pursue the arts by showing them how that future could look, whether they chase a career in music, writing, fine arts or woodworking — a trade that is seeing a resurgence.
While specialized high schools exist for students interested in acting or music, such as New York’s famous LaGuardia High School of Music & Art and Performing Arts (the model for the 1980 movie “Fame”), these opportunities are also showing up at regular schools. Wisconsin's Madison Metropolitan School District partners biennially with the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art for its Young at Art show. There, students have an opportunity to see their work hang professionally in a formal setting.
A robust arts curriculum doesn’t just develop strong creative students. Children in grades K-12 who attend New York’s Special Music School at Kaufman Music Center consistently receive some of the highest scores in New York City in math and English language arts tests. Arts curricula not only provides a more immersive experience for students, but it also helps broaden their education — as well as a possible blueprint of their post-graduate future.
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