June 5, 2014

What’s so important about arts education, anyway?

Arts education is essential to the development of skills that will pave the way for professional and personal success throughout life, but as Levar Burton once said, don’t take my word for it…Today, we’re bringing you a roundup of articles, blog posts, and studies discussing the importance of arts education.

Life Drawing, Life Skill. a Creative Commons licensed image
Life drawing, life skill. a Creative Commons licensed image

Have you ever asked yourself what’s the point of arts education, or on the other end, found yourself constantly promoting the benefits of arts education?

Here at AAC we’ve been doing some research and learned something we already knew: studying the arts is valuable in and of itself, but also assists with the development of skills that are necessary in all aspects of life. 


Why Drawing Needs to be a Curriculum Essential

A blog post by Anita Taylor about the importance of drawing skills and how they translate into other academic skills. Published on the Guardian Professional, May 29, 2014

Why we love it:

“As a primary visual language, essential for communication and expression, drawing is as important as the development of written and verbal skills. The need to understand the world through visual means would seem more acute than ever; images transcend the barriers of language, and enhance communications in an increasingly globalised world.”

PS: If you’re ready to begin building or strengthening your drawing skills this summer, we’re offering a class for adults called Observational Drawing, along with a series of Painting and Drawing fundamentals for teens and tweens


Arts Participation and Students’ Academic Outcomes

A two-year study of the effects of arts education on more than 600 students in 15 schools. Published in the Journal of Educational Psychology, Vol 105(3), Aug 2013

Why we love it:

“And we found that students who more frequently participated in the arts be it music, art, drama, dance, also tended to be more academically engaged, more academically motivated in other school subjects and also had higher self-esteem, higher levels of life satisfaction, and a greater sense of meaning in life.”

No time to read the study? Watch the four-minute video below to get inspired by the power of the arts in education.


How to Save Our Schools: The Arts and Music are No Fairytale

A blog post by actress Kerry Washington about a girl raised in DC’s Anacostia neighborhood, and the dramatic turnaround effect the arts had on her academic performance. Published on HUFFPOST Education, May 20, 2014

Why we love it:

“We have seen these results replicated in our Turnaround Arts schools across the country — from a Native American reservation in Montana to the Irish Chanel in New Orleans, educators have been successfully using the arts to move the needle on student outcomes in some of the toughest schools in our country. Decades of research show that, used strategically, the arts are an effective tool for improving school culture and climate, increasing student engagement and building parent and community involvement.”


National Art Education Association

has this to say:

Art Means Work:

“This is what art is from childhood to old age. Through art, our students learn the meaning of joy of work-work done to the best of one’s ability, for its own sake, for the satisfaction of a job well done.”

Art Means Language:

“Complete literacy includes the ability to understand, respond to, and talk about visual images…By teaching pupils to describe, analyze, and interpret visual images, we enhance their powers of verbal expression.”

Art Means Values:

“When we study the art of many lands and peoples, we expose our students to the expression of a wide range of human values and concerns. We sensitize students to the fact that values shape all human efforts, and that visual images can affect their personal value choices. All of them should be given the opportunity to see how art can express the highest aspirations of the human spirit.”


Top 10 Skills Children Learn From the Arts

An article about Lisa Phillips’ research and writings on arts and skills developed by through the arts, written by Valerie Strauss and published in the Washington Post, January 22, 2013.

Why we love it:

Skill number 4. Perseverance – When a child picks up a violin for the first time, she/he knows that playing Bach right away is not an option; however, when that child practices, learns the skills and techniques and doesn’t give up, that Bach concerto is that much closer. In an increasingly competitive world, where people are being asked to continually develop new skills, perseverance is essential to achieving success.


Arts and the Mind

A two-part special produced in 2012 by PBS and hosted by Lisa Kudrow, that explores and discusses the science of how engaging in the arts affects the development of cognitive skills.

Why we love it:

“The arts play a central role in what it means to be human. They also help grow healthy young minds and maintain them as we age. Across the country, at a time when arts education is being diminished in our schools, innovative leaders are creating exciting and effective arts education program.”


So what are you waiting for? Give your kids (and yourself!) a leg-up and register for a summer art class at AAC already!


An Adventure of Being

Extended to February 11, 2024

Smith & Meyer Galleries
Featured Artists: Vincent Cy Chen, Nicki Cherry, Jeremy Olson, and Stephanie J. Williams

An Adventure of Being explores blurred boundaries, physical breakdown, and states of in-between-ness. The painting, sculpture, and installations included in the exhibition incorporate materials and forms that bring to mind living beings.

2024 Art Classes for Kids, Teens, and Adults!

Register now! Classes begin January 21!

Whether you are giving the gift of creativity this year to a friend or family member, or you plan to set a new year’s resolution to get back into creating, sign up today to secure your spot in one of MoCA’s wonderful programs! From drawing and painting to ceramics and mixed media, you are sure to find an inspiring art class.

Zaq Landsberg: Reclining Liberty

August 5, 2023 - July 28, 2024

Front Lawn
MoCA Arlington and Arlington Public Art are thrilled to co-sponsor the installation of Zaq Landsberg’s celebrated Reclining Liberty on the Museum’s front lawn.

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