Arts Education in a Digital World

"Every day, American young people spend more than 4 hours watching television, DVDs, or videos; 1 hour using a computer; and 49 minutes playing video games. In many cases, youths are engaged in two or more of these activities at the same time. Little wonder this era has become known as the “digital age,” and Americans born after 1980 have become known as 'digital natives'."


This quote is from a 2016 handout from the National Art Education Association titled "Learning in a Visual Age: The Critical Importance of Visual Arts Education."  In another Internet article written by Dr. Brent Conrad called "Media Statistics - Children's Use of TV, Internet, and Video Games", there is a disheartening statistic on children listening to music. "Listening to music actually decreases from birth to age eight. Children up to a year old spend an average of 39 minutes per day listening to music, 30 minutes at ages two to four, and just 23 minutes at ages five to eight," wrote Dr. Conrad.

There is overwhelming evidence that the arts dramatically increases a child's ability to learn (such as the now famous Mozart Effect study).  So what can we do as educators and parents or guardians to change these numbers?

  1. If you are an educator, there are many resources available for you to integrate more art into your classroom.  One of those resources is right here at the Renaissance with the Kennedy Center Arts Integration Workshops.  The next one will be on October 22nd and the title is "Building Reading Comprehension Through Sound and Rhythm" with Imani Gonzalez.  This type of resource is invaluable for the educator, as you can learn tools which will not only inspire your students, but help your students grasp challenging concepts.  If you are reading this from outside the state of Ohio, just go to The Kennedy Center/Education for more information.
  2.  Do a field trip to a museum or theatre with your students.  Yes - it just so happens we have a field trip opportunity, too!  This is called Operation Bridge Building.  Each season, thousands of regional students come to the Renaissance Theatre to experience the Mansfield Symphony. Performing a FREE educational concert tied into their curricular standards and featuring beloved symphonic repertoire alongside popular and recognizable music, this event is a highlight in the school year for our region's students. Contact [email protected] and bring your class or homeschooler!
  3. At home - turn it ALL off!  In a recent Clinical Report from the American Pediatric Association called "The Power of Play: A Pediatric Role in Enhancing Development in Children", the authors discuss the need for play to stimulate learning.  This is not only for the ability to learn language, math, or science, but for a social maturing to take place so that a child learns the rules of belonging to society.  Remember that famous phrase, "Music tames the savage beast?"  This is absolutely true and can work both with passive listening, as well as active listening to music.

As we begin National Arts in Education week, see if you can make one small change in your students' or child's life to bring art into their learning.