The Life-Changing Benefits of Kindergarten to Grade 12 Arts Education
Earlier this year, a study published by the Brooking Institution provided further evidence of what many art teachers have long known: Studying art makes a real difference in the lives of students.
The study involved 10,000 students in grades three to eight. Those who have been exposed to an in-depth arts program, including dance, music, drama, and visual arts during before and after school programs, field trips, school performances, and sessions with resident artists, were compared to those that were not. Ultimately, the study found that students who had access to arts education had fewer disciplinary issues, better writing grades, and more compassion for others.
These students were also more engaged in school, more likely to aspire to college, and more inclined to use art to empathize with others. The report even suggested that arts education could improve the school climate, empower students, and increase the respect students have for their teachers and peers.
Arts education teaches valuable life skills
Kelsey Wengel, MA ’20, knows first-hand how arts education can impact the lives of students. Wengel currently works as a high school visual arts teacher and district arts manager in Pleasanton, California. âOur art class is a lively, joyful and inclusive space, where students of all abilities are welcomed and encouraged,â she said. âProducing art is a window to the soul and teaches us so much about our students socially, emotionally and academically. “
Wengel noted that the skills students learn in art classes – playing music, singing, criticizing, creating, exploring, and taking risks – are important skills in every person’s life.
APU offers a Specialized Master
Wengel was looking for a master’s degree program that would suit him. As a visual arts teacher, she wanted a specialist degree focused on her career. And as a working mom with two young children, she also needed a schedule that was flexible enough to fit into her schedule. She found exactly what she was looking for at Azusa Pacific University.
“APU’s new Masters in Arts Education is a perfect match for my needs,” she said. The 30-unit low-residency degree combines hands-on online courses and two one-week intensive summer internships on the main campus. It is a launching pad for a range of careers in arts education. Additionally, the online aspect allows students like Wengel to have day work, be at home with the kids, and jump online for class work when it suits them best.
Wengel started the program with an intensive week-long session over the summer that offers hands-on, process-oriented studio collaboration. It is a week where students connect, refine their techniques and create art in an intimate and supportive environment.
This turned out to be a valuable starting point for Wengel. âDuring this week, we met the faculty and students of the Fine Arts Department, and also had the chance to meet and bond with our future classmates,â she explained. âEven though it only lasted a week, we accomplished so much. “
Student Spotlight: Kelsey Wengel, MA 20
The flexible program adapts to working professionals
While Wengel has chosen to begin his studies during the summer, the program offers five entry points each year. In addition to the summer intensive, students take a targeted online course for an eight-week session and only two total courses per term.
As part of the program, students learn from professional teachers deeply engaged in the art world. âI really appreciated the personal relationship between the teachers and Program Director Erin Weaver carried away with us, âWengel said. “She went above and beyond to make sure we had valuable experience.”
Wengel notes that she is committed to using her degree to promote arts education. âI believe that all children deserve and should have a positive fine art experience in their schools,â she said. âI aspire to create visual arts programs on a higher level and make art a part of every child’s day.
Posted: June 4, 2019