Wednesday, May 29, 2013

The Power of Creativity and the Arts

By Sam Piha

Sam Piha
Last week, I continued my annual tradition of attending the end of the year dance performance by the youth from San Francisco's School of the Arts (SOTA). I was reminded once again of the power of the arts and creativity in promoting young peoples' learning, engagement, and drive for mastery. 

In an age in which we value academic test scores and more recently, STEM, so highly, the importance of creativity and the arts gets the short end of the stick. Afterschool and summer programs are the perfect place to foster creativity, and we should be ready with pride to defend these activities. In a series of upcoming blog posts, we will explore this with interviews with local artists, art teachers, and young people who have much to say on this topic. Below are five of the top ten skills that young people learn from the arts. For the complete list of skills, see the link further below.

The Top Ten Skills Children Learn From the Arts
By Lisa Phillips
1. Creativity – Being able to think on your feet, approach tasks from different perspectives and think ‘outside of the box’ will distinguish your child from others. In an arts program, your child will be asked to recite a monologue in 6 different ways, create a painting that represents a memory, or compose a new rhythm to enhance a piece of music. If children have practice thinking creatively, it will come naturally to them now and in their future career.
2. Confidence – The skills developed through theater, not only train you how to convincingly deliver a message, but also build the confidence you need to take command of the stage. Theater training gives children practice stepping out of their comfort zone and allows them to make mistakes and learn from them in rehearsal. This process gives children the confidence to perform in front of large audiences.
3. Problem Solving – Artistic creations are born through the solving of problems. How do I turn this clay into a sculpture? How do I portray a particular emotion through dance? How will my character react in this situation? Without even realizing it kids that participate in the arts are consistently being challenged to solve problems. All this practice problem solving develops children’s skills in reasoning and understanding. This will help develop important problem-solving skills necessary for success in any career.
4. Perseverance – When a child picks up a violin for the first time, she/he knows that playing Bach right away is not an option; however, when that child practices, learns the skills and techniques and doesn’t give up, that Bach concerto is that much closer. In an increasingly competitive world, where people are being asked to continually develop new skills, perseverance is essential to achieving success.
5. Focus – The ability to focus is a key skill developed through ensemble work. Keeping a balance between listening and contributing involves a great deal of concentration and focus. It requires each participant to not only think about their role, but how their role contributes to the big picture of what is being created. Recent research has shown that participation in the arts improves children’s abilities to concentrate and focus in other aspects of their lives.


To read more articles and studies on the importance of creativity and the arts in youth development, click on the titles to view:

- Online Resource: Creativity Culture & Education


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