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Justifying your arts program




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Greetings, fellow soldiers! I requested any information on research for
justifying our programs when appropriate a month or so ago. I received
some great responses, which are included along with an article, below.
Even though I received responses in a timely manner, I was not speedy in
passing them along. Well, fortunately or unfortunately, depending on how
you interpret it, a parent's point of view made the issue a priority once
again. This parent sent in a note with her child, who wanted to drop my
class. (The student claims she did not want to drop, that her mother
wanted her to, but that is neither here nor there). What I wanted to
share with you was the reasons WHY the mother wanted her daughter to drop
the class. She stated she wanted her daughter to take classes that
"exercise her brain" and "require skill".

May we all continue to fight the good fight and keep music alive in our
cultures.

With sincere thanks to all who replied,
Kate


RESOURCES:
Sing and Shine On! by Nick Page

"The Mozart Effect", by Gordon Shaw, 5/24/98 Chicago Tribune

Music and the Mind, by Stor

The Mozart Effect, by Don Campbell

"Frames of Mind" by Howard Gardner

www.tmea.org/025_Advocacy/index.html

ELOQUENT EVIDENCE: Arts at the Core of Learning,
National Assembly of State Arts Agencies,
1010 Vermont Ave NW
Suite 920
Washington, DC, 20005

__________________
Kate Kasson
Director of Choral Music
Western Reserve
---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Tue, 25 Aug 1998 16:05:02 -0400 (EDT)
From: DRush68877(a)aol.com
To: wehs_st_kk(a)noeca.ohio.gov
Subject: Fwd: Interesting article

Thought this article may give you some ideas for your bulletin board. If you
can, it might be nice to see a compilation of what you recieve or use so
others can use the info too (but I know this is time consuming at the start of
the year).

Best regards
Darlene Durrwachter Rushing
Director of Education, Pittsburgh Opera

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From: Jamie Driver
Subject: Interesting article
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I don't know if any of you read this in the Los Angeles Times, but it is
another useful argument! Read on.
-Jamie Driver

Thursday, August 13, 1998

Mind Over Matter
Why the Arts Are Important to Science
By K.C. COLE, Times Science Writer

What's art got to do with it? A lot more than people generally think. To
educators fighting over school budgets, art and music frequently are
viewed as frills that drain funds from more serious subjects like math
and science. But scientists and mathematicians know different. In fact,
they often rely on aesthetics to guide their research, filter their
perceptions and help them visualize patterns in the sometimes
impenetrable chaos of data.

That's why recent moves by Los Angeles and Orange counties to put
the arts back into the schools is such good news for science education.
Among the children who will benefit most are the future scientists and
mathematicians--and the people who come to use their discoveries and
inventions. Artistic training can sometimes play a critical role in
scientific success.

Of course, scientists have long said that the best of their breed are
artistically inclined. Most everyone has seen photos of Einstein with
his violin and physicist Richard Feynman with his bongos. I've sat next
to physicist Frank Wilczek while he played silent Bach piano concertos
on his knees during professional talks. Nobel Prize-winning chemist
Roald Hoffmann writes highly praised poetry (only sometimes about
molecules).

Put four mathematicians in a room, the old saying goes, and you're sure
to have a string quartet. In fact, artistically inclined scientists tend
to win more awards than their less diversified colleagues, according to
several studies. Michigan State University physiologist Robert
Root-Bernstein and his psychologist mother, Maurine Bernstein, found
that most Nobel Prize winners and members of the National Academy of
Sciences had arts-related hobbies.

"Their less successful colleagues did not share either their arts
interests or their arts-related thinking skills," the authors concluded.
This finding, replicated in several similar studies, seems a logical
extension of other research conducted at UC Irvine suggesting that
exposure to music actually enhances intellectual ability. Not only does
listening to Mozart improve test performance (at least temporarily),
preschoolers who play piano do better at science and math than their
counterparts who don't.

Why should this be so? Why should painting or playing piano or writing
poetry have anything to do with math or science? One obvious reason is
that scientists, like artists, must learn to pay close attention--both
to detail and to the broader context. Scientists, like artists, are
people who notice things. They not only see things that other people
often ignore, they also see the frequently hidden links among disparate
aspects of reality.
* * *
Scientists and engineers, says Root-Bernstein, "must learn to observe
as acutely as artists and to visualize things in their minds as concretely.
They must learn to recognize and invent patterns like composers or
poets...and play their high-tech instruments with the same virtuosity as
musical performers."

Another art-science connection may lie in the relationship between our
hands and our brains. A new book by California neurologist Frank
Wilson, "The Hand: How It Shapes the Brain, Language and Culture,"
argues that people who use their hands are privy to a way of knowing
about the world inaccessible to those not schooled in manual arts.

Speaking on National Public Radio's "All Things Considered" recently,
Wilson told of a car mechanic who got a call from a vice president at a
big computer company, complaining that his MIT-educated engineers
couldn't solve problems as well as the older engineers at the company.
It turned out, Wilson said, that 70% of older engineers fixed their
cars, and 20% had some experience with wrenches. Of the young
hotshots, none had ever held a wrench. As a result, they weren't as
good at understanding complex systems.
* * *
The hand's knowledge about the world, according to Wilson, actually
teaches the brain new tricks. The hand's touching, exploring and
manipulating can rewire the brain's neural circuitry.

Finally, logic alone is sometimes insufficient to solve really complex
problems. Even Einstein said that imagination was more important to a
scientist than knowledge. Physicists on the forefront of discovery often
talk about being guided by "smell" or instinct. They talk about the
"aesthetic" appeal of ideas. According to French physicist Henri
Poincare, aesthetics was "a delicate sieve" that helped scientists sort
through the confusion of facts and theories. The physicist P.A.M Dirac
observed: "It is more important to have beauty in one's equations than
to have them fit experiments."

Painting, piano playing and poetry help put things in context, sharpen
details, hone observations. They sort the essential from the peripheral,
forge connections, find patterns and discover new ways of seeing
familiar things. These are exactly the tools any good scientist needs.

Copyright 1998 Los Angeles Times. All Rights Reserved



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