When I first entered North County classrooms as a teacher in the late 1980s, I observed how the arts are part of a well-rounded education. Arts education refers to the disciplines of music, dance, theatre, and visual arts. Even the early writings of Plato emphasized the important role of the arts in education. I believe the arts are part of what makes us most human, or more complete as people. Throughout my career, I have read, participated in, and conducted research that illustrates some of the many reasons why the arts can serve to improve learning in all academic areas.
Brain research data indicates that neural systems that influence fine motor skills, creativity, and even emotional balance are developed through the arts. Judith Burton of Columbia University researched the complex cognition and creative capacities required in the subjects of math, science, and language arts. Her research linked academic achievement and the arts (Burton, Horowitz, & Ables, 1999).
“The arts enhance the process of learning. The systems they nourish, which include our integrated sensory, attentional, cognitive, emotional, and motor capacities, are, in fact, the driving forces behind all other learning” (Jensen, 2001).
My office is committed to promoting the arts by facilitating professional artists working alongside local students in professional settings. A few of the upcoming highlights include:
• A dedicated space for all North County schools will be provided at Studios on the Park to display student art beginning this summer.
• The San Luis Obispo Museum of Art is currently sponsoring AWAKEN, a year-long program celebrating art and community expressed through the imaginative creations of our county’s students.
• On Saturday, May 11 (Mother’s Day weekend), Opera San Luis Obispo will produce the first Countywide Arts Extravaganza. The Opera San Luis Obispo Gala Extraordinaire will feature student artists from throughout the county working with Ballet Theatre San Luis Obispo, Civic Ballet San Luis Obispo, Opera SLO Resident Artists Holly Banfield, Alba Franco Cancel, and Amy Goymerac, in addition to students from north and south county who are involved in school dance, choral, and instrumental programs. The Gala is another example of arts organizations linking hands with education to promote the arts.
For ticket information, visit www.pacslo.org or call 805-756-4849.
I am proud to serve as your county superintendent of schools and to promote the arts.