The push towards employable skills like math and science is filtering down to the youngest students in the U.S. With tight school budgets to manage, school administrators are cutting music, art and foreign language programs first, despite robust research showing that training in these “extra” subjects is actually crucial to students’ development. In her U.S. News and World Report article, Stacey Boyd explains the research:
“Take music as an example. A study by Virginia Penhune at Concordia University shows that musical training, particularly instrumental training, produces long lasting changes in motor abilities and brain structure. The earlier a child starts instrumental training, the stronger the connection between the right and left hemispheres of the brain. These changes last into adulthood and are proven to affect the ability to listen and communicate as an adult. Nina Krauss, a cognitive neuroscientist at Northwestern University, just released a study that older adults who took music lessons at a young age can process the sounds of speech faster than those who did not, even if they haven’t picked up an instrument in 40 years.”
Art develops the mind and teaches children valuable skills. Harvard President Drew Faust recently wrote of students overlooking the benefit of following their “interest in art or linguistics or any of the other humanity disciplines.” The trend towards employable subjects like math and science is reflected in decisions of college students as well as decision-making in primary and secondary schools.