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Education Lab Blog

Education Lab is a yearlong project to spark meaningful conversations about education solutions in the Pacific Northwest.

Topic: arts

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June 20, 2014 at 5:00 AM

More than clapping along, arts education can transform schools

arts ed pic

Photo courtesy Turnaround Arts

Lest recent buzz about science-and-tech education consume all focus on ways to improve schools, consider this provocative testimonial about the power of art to boost learning.

It comes from an unlikely source, the actress Kerry Washington, who writes in a Huffington Post column about her experience watching the change at Savoy Elementary, a long-struggling school in Washington, D.C.

Much of the piece focuses on Kechelle, a third-grader Washington describes as whip-smart but withdrawn. But after Savoy spent two years weaving music and performance into its regular curriculum, Kechelle blossomed, as did many other kids at her school.

This was no slap-dash effort. Savoy had hired an arts coordinator and part-time teaching artists. Math, reading and social studies teachers incorporated music and theater into their lessons. Kids had dance lessons every morning, and the hallways were lined with their paintings.

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Comments | More in News | Topics: arts

April 1, 2014 at 4:24 PM

Guest: Double-majoring helps students balance passion and practicality

Imana Gunawan

Imana Gunawan

We’ve heard it before: Studying the arts in college doesn’t provide financial stability and is a waste of time. Even President Obama hinted at that sentiment in his State of the Union address when he made a comment about the earnings of art history majors.

For many students, the arts are an identity. Some may have taken ballet classes or sketch self-portraits for fun. But as these students venture into higher education, many end up not pursuing the arts because of practical, personal or financial reasons.

Students who can afford it have a clear solution: double-majoring. In Washington’s state schools, pursuing two majors generally costs the same as one, if students can pack their coursework into four years. Many students who study two majors must enroll in a costly fifth year of classes, however.

School administrators and state legislators would do well to provide financial and institutional support for students pursuing two majors. Interdepartmental scholarships from the school or even state-provided financial aid can go a long way in helping undergraduates get the most out of their education.

Jordan Rohrs is a University of Washington senior majoring in business with minors in music and dance. He wanted to double-major in business and dance and minor in music, but the cost stopped him. Rohrs said he would have to pay an additional $12,000 tuition and stay an extra year to complete the two majors and minor.

Yet even now in pursuing his dance minor, Rohrs’ biggest challenge is balancing classes to maintain skills in both fields. Both the dance department and the business school only offer certain required courses at select times, he said.

“To try and bring yourself to an adequate level by doing both (business and dance) is difficult,” Rohrs said.

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Comments | More in Guest opinion, Opinion | Topics: arts, double major, higher ed