Recently I listened to part of a radio talk show that lamented the declining emphasis on social and emotional development in school. The show pointed out that social and emotional development is crucial to a lifetime of success.
Because of the “No Child Left Behind Act,” some schools have made cuts in their arts programs as they have focused on test scores in core academic areas. As a school leader, I understand the pressures to make such decisions, and we want stellar math, science and language arts programs. At the same time, we are pleased to be a school that values, celebrates and is not reducing arts and social/emotional development in the curriculum.
The evening of the day I listened to part of the talk show, I attended the Lancaster Mennonite Middle Schools Seventh Annual Fine Arts Festival. It was a wonderful evening that showcased students’ progress and success in the arts. It reminded me of the important role the arts play in social and emotional development, as well as research showing the connection between music and success in academic subject areas.
Additionally, I was reminded of the LMS core value of spiritual development, which we value along with social, emotional and academic growth. The arts are an important component of our core values that define success as going beyond test scores, which are important, to our students being transformed as we educate the whole child.