The value of an Arts education
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The value of an Arts education

The value of an Arts education

“All the world’s a stage,

And all the men and women merely players;

They have their exits and their entrances,

And one man in his time plays many parts…”

– William Shakespeare, As You Like It, Act II Scene VII

What is the significance of the arts and creativity in an advanced, digital age?

We live in a society dominated by inherently science-based disciplines, where students who pursue any subject outside of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) live in the shadow of future uncertainty.

But changing times often trigger a shift in global attitude – and this revolution is pivotal in the context of the arts. Creative writing, drama, dance, music and visual arts; these are the subjects that show us the depths of the complex human condition. Today, even the most prominent figures of academia are underlining the role of creative mind in forming ‘emotional intelligence’, acknowledging the arts as fundamental to the development of personality and imagination.

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A group of children in Flint, United States, are evidence of this notion in action. Gathered in a local community makerspace, these young and bright-eyed babes became the nation’s first to take part in Amani-Children in Harmony; a scheme that strives to “build a lifetime of gender equity and empathy through music and emotional intelligence”.

Marvin Diem, programme co-ordinator, says: “Music is a universal language. Even if you aren’t a very skilled musician, you can still send a message and get a point across.”

This fun-filled 10-day programme pulses artistry through its every vein, inspiring thought and vision through simple breathing exercises, drum circles and a grand final performance. Armed with musical instruments and tools for creative crafts, these children aged 8-12 tune in to their emotions with surprising levels of insight and maturity, discovering a sense of self through art and musical practice.

“Kids very early on will develop a fixed mindset about what they can and cannot do,” says Erik Gregory, Children in Harmony’s Executive Director. “But that mindset can be changed. These kids can learn things here that they were told they couldn’t.”

This is a trend we must all pledge to continue, teaching our children the value of creativity in an often-discouraging world. Far from being less valuable than education’s more technical disciplines, the arts instil key life skills STEM subjects simply cannot touch.

Who cares what society leads the conventional and closed-minded to believe? It is about breaking through borders of restrictive tradition and setting our children artistically free.

Here are four of the world’s shining lights in arts-based education…

IDYLLWILD ARTS ACADEMY, CALIFORNIA – USA

Idyllwild Arts is intent on transforming lives through the power of the arts. Nestled on a 200-acre campus in a stunning alpine setting, this school is a stage of inspiration for all art forms and artists of every age.

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This is the premier residential high school in the nation, offering pre-professional training in relation to the arts to resounding global acclaim. Here, 300 students from 30 different countries dedicate mind, body and soul to creative craft, empowered by an elite education that holds both talent and imagination in increasingly high regard.

Whether it is in Music, Theatre, Dance, Visual Art, Creative Writing, Film & Digital Media, InterArts or Fashion Design, you can rest assured that Idyllwild students are in the pursuit of excellence and mastering their craft.

“Idyllwild Arts is home to children exploring art, curious pre-teens who are makers of art and music, teenagers bursting forth as emerging artists, professional artists who come to share and hone their talent and develop new skills, as well as the novice who learns more in one week, one class or one year than he or she ever thought possible,” says Pamela Jordan, President and Head of the school.

“Whether adult or child,” she adds, “students who enter into the network that is Idyllwild Arts start on a path to develop the skills, creativity and innovative thinking that support a lifetime of opportunities and success.”

QUEEN’S COLLEGE, TAUNTON – UK

This independent day and boarding school makes its home in the English county of Somerset, and excels in terms of academic results, as well as eminence in sport and high-quality provisions in creative and performing arts.

In fact, Queen’s College is a recognised centre of excellence in the arts. Guided by a team of respected and experienced practitioners, students take part in three major productions per year, involving students of all ages and ability in every production.

At the close of Autumn Term, the show involves pupils from Year 10 (age 15) and above. The Spring Term Dance production then includes dancers of all ages, showcasing a diverse range of vibrant dance genres. The Summer Term sees Years 7-9 (age 12-14) perform the Middle School play which is often a toe-tapping musical.

From heated wooden floors to mirrored walls, retractable seating and 500-seat theatre complete with cutting-edge light and audio systems, Queen’s College is readily-equipped with some of the sector’s most exclusive facilities.

Every week, the school lays on the popular ‘Crew Club’ meeting, encouraging students to get involved with the craft’s more technical aspects. These students are immersed in lighting board programming and the creation of recorded soundscapes, showing the arts are behind the scenes as well as centre stage.

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WALNUT HILL SCHOOL FOR THE ARTS, MASSACHUSETTS – USA

This independent boarding, day and high school provides a transformational education for aspiring visionaries and artists.

Walnut Hill guides creative students from Grade 9 to Grade 12 (ages 14-18), with a detailed postgraduate learning option also available. At the heart of this school’s ethos is the recognition that art and creative thinking are essential to the promotion of a more tolerant, mindful world.

At Walnut Hill, students come together from across the country and the world, establishing a warm and creatively-centred community on a panoramic campus located west of Boston.

“Our mission to educate talented, accomplished, and intellectually-engaged young artists from all over the world is as critical today as it has ever been. In my years at Walnut Hill, I have come to fully appreciate and understand how vital our work is to the larger global conversation,” says Antonio Viva, Head of the School.

“It has become very clear to me how well Walnut Hill prepares students to face the challenges of the 21st century. The many and varied successes of our alumni are a powerful indicator of how a Walnut Hill education continues to serve our students well, enabling them to grow into the creative, artistic, and professional leaders of the future.”

THE McDONALD COLLEGE, SYDNEY – AUSTRALIA

The McDonald College urges students to channel performance to help them think laterally and imaginatively.

The academic programme for Years 7 to 12 (ages 12-18) meets every definition set by the New South Wales Board of Studies. Students here love the seamless integration of performance subjects with more traditional academics, promising a rich and holistic education that allows graduates to exceed expectations in every aspect of their lives.

Whether your child’s passion lies in dance, acting, ballet, music or musical theatre, McDonald boasts a world-class curriculum to help them succeed, with facilities to match.

To squeeze every inch of value and enrichment out of training for their passion, students are asked to nominate one of these disciplines as their prime region of study – a discipline to which they then devote every hour scheduled for performing arts. Alternatively, in addition to nominating a Core Area of Study, students can stagger their timetable, selecting one elective to broaden their skill and experience.

This is a community that is supportive and creative, encouraging students to picture life beyond the school from the first day. Regardless of whether your child hopes to be a star of the stage, or whether they hope to change lives for the better as a doctor, lawyer or entrepreneur, McDonald College is laden with the culture, academics and reputation to ensure that they succeed.

*Some of the institutions featured in this article are commercial partners of Study International

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