Singing and Dancing to Academic Success!
Over the past 10 years, a number of studies have examined the connection between fine arts education and academic achievement. To this musically-trained author, the results have not been surprising.
Fine Arts are generally considered the areas of music, drama/theatre, dance and art, characterized by purely aesthetic value. While these subjects have been traditionally handled as individually taught classes, the studies referred to focused on the benefits of teaching the arts “across the curriculum”.
This isn’t a new concept. Reading and writing are easily adaptable and have become increasingly taught as part of the study of history and science. Applying fine arts in this same way has been shown to encourage creative thinking and a deeper understanding of academic learning, especially in math and the sciences. Art studies have also been shown to raise verbal and math SAT scores, when compared to those of students receiving no art education. Teaching through the arts helps students experience concepts rather than just talk about them. It also allows material to “sink in” via multiple modes and thus foster learning regardless of the student’s learning style.
An absolutely wonderful application of these principles and findings is the Master’s Academy of Fine Arts. This is a fine arts program designed specifically for homeschooled children aged 5-18 years old. Classes meet once a week and students study drama, art and music within a historical context. World History is broken up into the 6 time-periods that comprise a Master’s cycle, each lasting a complete year. And since it’s inception in 1992, when it opened in the Atlanta, GA area, 3 levels have been developed:
1) The Master’s Academy of Fine Arts – an exposure-level program designed to lay a foundation in arts education;
2) Building on this is the Master’s Academy of Visual and Performing Arts – geared toward junior high and high school students; and
3) Terebinth – a non-traditional, college-level program for the arts which began its pilot year in the fall of ’07.
In 1995, the administrators of MAFA decided to make the program available to homeschoolers across the US, and it has grown steadily since then. Today, MAFA satellites operate in 16 locations
Our family has been involved in The Master’s Academy for 2 years now. It has been a highlight of our kids’ week and they always finish the morning with lots of new information, ideas and projects to talk about and pursue on their own time. Master’s has developed a love and interest in both music and history for our 2 boys, and our daughter is looking forward to being a part of things next year. I eagerly anticipate what’s to come!
To find out more about MAFA, or to find a location near you, visit their homepage at www.mafa.net.
Pat Fenner offers encouragement to homeschoolers at Help-4-Your-Homeschool.com. For monthly doses of encouragement, inspiration and ideas, sign up for her free newsletter “Sparks for the Flame”.