This piece says what I think we all know, namely that “extra-curriculars” such as music, art, and foreign languages are actually central to learning. And not just because they make kids “well-rounded”; they actually improve cognition, and teach valuable skills. Research shows that musical training, for example, “produces long lasting changes in motor abilities and brain structure.” As the author states, “Concentration, strong recall skills, evolved communication skills, and being a good team player are just a few of the benefits research shows music, foreign language and physical education have on a developing mind.”
These subjects are being pushed out of the classroom curriculum as high-stakes standardized testing dominates the K-12 landscape. The narrowing of the curriculum in this way has many obvious drawbacks, but one that deserves more attention is the equity concern.
A lot of parents in Berkeley can afford to supplement their children’s education with these programs, but many more cannot. And they shouldn’t have to.