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The Performing Arts in the School System

The performing arts deserve a central role within the school system. The arts are a core academic subject. The discipline, creativity, and feelings of empowerment that students gain from engaging in the performing arts are just as important as their mastery of traditional fields such as literature and science. The performing arts encompass a wide range of artistic expression, with emphasis on experimentation. Examples of performing arts disciplines are music, dancing, drama, choreography, and cinematography. In contemporary educational thought, art is defined both as a body of knowledge and as a developmental activity. Personal development through the performing arts is as important as learning about the arts.

The performing arts are critical in the learning process. Modern educators acknowledge that there is no single method of learning. One learning theory that has gained increasing acceptance is that of psychologist Howard Gardner. Gardner's Multiple Intelligence Theory claims that humans learn not only through the linguistic and mathematical models of schooling but through seven intelligences (Gardner, 1985). These seven intelligences are: logical/mathematical, verbal/linguistic, visual/spatial, body/kinesthetic, musical/rhythmic, intrapersonal and interpersonal. Multiple Intelligence Theory challenges teachers to work from a student's strengths: "Because of the variety in learning styles, schools must teach students through all forms of intelligence." Rewarding students for their successes in the performing arts creates a spillover effect. The message is sent that conceptual and creative forms of thinking are valued as highly as traditionally accepted forms of intelligence.

Human beings generally learn those things that interest them. An example is the acquisition of a foreign language. By the time most people graduate from institutions of higher education they have taken foreign language classes both i...

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