Arts in Education and Student Engagement

Posted by JoEllen Florio Rossebo on

This week is National Arts in Education Week, recognizing the importance of the arts in a child’s education. This year, from September 11-17, the Arts Council of Indianapolis and its Any Given Child Indy initiative, a partnership with Indianapolis Public Schools and the Mayor’s Office, have organized a weeklong celebration for the Indianapolis community. This post from JoEllen Florio Rossebo of Arts for Learning explains the importance of arts in a child's education.


Over the years I have observed countless examples of arts in education workshops, performances, and residencies. I have seen children learning and connecting on many different levels. Sometimes the learning is deep and complex, interwoven with multiple subject areas; sometimes students are learning soft skills through their cooperation with other participants; and at other times the learning is passive while a student observes someone else performing, stimulating their imagination. How does all this relate to our high school dropout crisis?

There is a common theme in arts in education, student engagement. As we wade through a plethora of education terminology from collaborative, to project based, to active, and blended learning, I think we can agree that the common goal is student learning, student success. When a child experiences success they want to learn more, they become intrinsically motivated, and ultimately enjoy and appreciate learning. Arts in education programs provide that place for meaningful learning.

The arts are about process, giving students an opportunity to ask questions, seek answers, and be curious. Experimentation, failure, and a chance to revise are also part of the process. If someone doesn’t see the power of the Arts in learning, they have most likely not been given the opportunity to truly explore through the Arts. As a child, I remember that feeling of inadequacy because I couldn’t produce a drawing that looked real enough or represent an object well enough, but that isn’t really the point of the arts process.

Rigorous arts in education programs invite a student to take risks, expand, and grow. That is something that might just keep students interested in school.


JoEllen Florio Rossebo.jpg  JoEllen has served as the leader of Arts for Learning since 2003, having previously served as the Arts Partners Director for more than eight years. She is currently on the Fine Arts Committee for Ivy Tech Community College, Indianapolis and serves on the national certification and planning committees for Young Audiences Inc. JoEllen Vice President of the Indianapolis Consortium of Arts Administrators.

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