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Arts can be key to a good education

17 Jan, 2011 03:00 AM
A REVIEW of research has called on the arts to be entwined with all academic disciplines to cultivate creativity and imagination.

Port Macquarie mother and daughter, Heather and Lillian Hannock, are already on board with the benefits of the arts.

Lillian, 15, plays the flute, piccolo, “a bit of piano” and dances.

She said playing the flute, for example, was a fun activity to share with school friends and it brought other benefits too.

The Australian Council for Educational Research review highlights international research which shows students whose learning is embedded in the arts achieve better grades and overall test scores, were less likely to leave school early, rarely report boredom and have more positive self-concept than those students deprived of arts experiences.

Examples from education and community education programs, which use arts processes and experiences, demonstrate the potential of the arts to change lives.

Mrs Hannock, a casual teacher, speaks of her experience in how the arts reach out to special needs children.

“I work in special education at times, and with some of the high support kids, music is often the way to get a connection with them,” she said.

“It is a shared experience and a way of being with that child.”

Mrs Hannock said she been around many of the schools in the area and every school incorporated the arts quiet well.

“The arts are about self expression, it is a way of being seen and being heard, which every human being has a need for.”

The creative process was engaging, she said, and a powerful learning medium.

Lillian and her 12-year-old sister, Stella, arrive at St Columba Anglican School early to participate in a range of arts-based activities.

The sisters dedicate much of their extra time to the arts.

Stella, a member of national children’s choir, devoted two weeks of her school holidays to a summer workshop in Sydney.

The 12-year-old hones her craft with help from singing teacher Robyn Ryan.

Meanwhile, the review of research by University of Sydney academic Professor Robyn Ewing says dance, drama, literature, media arts, music and visual arts must not be seen as servants to other curriculum areas.

Professor Ewing said change in thinking was required by policymakers to ensure cultivating imagination and creativity became the priorities rather than “add-ons”.

“It will be important for policy-makers and those developing the new national curriculum to seriously consider the evidence and stances adopted in this review,” Prof Ewing said.

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Creative flair: Lillian Hannock says a range of benefits flow through music
Creative flair: Lillian Hannock says a range of benefits flow through music

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