Artful Thinking: Maryland Middle School Proves Arts Ed Improves Grades and Behavior

Wouldn't you rather learn fractions by examining composition in Warhol's Campbell's soup paintings?


Arts exposure makes students more altruistic, civically engaged, and socially tolerant. Need more proof of the transformation that happens when arts education is taken seriously in schools? Look no further than this inspiring profile of Bates Middle School, a public school in Annapolis, Maryland from our friends over at Edutopia. Bates has a full visual and performing arts program integrated across the curriculum and they've seen significant improvements in student behavior and academic performance.

Since 2009 the school has seen a 23 percent drop in suspensions and student reading and math test scores has outpaced the Maryland state average. What's noteworthy is that Bates doesn't silo the arts into dance or drawing classes. Instead the teachers integrate and connect the arts across the curricula. A science classroom might have "students choreographing a dance using locomotor and nonlocomotor movements to demonstrate their understanding of rotation versus revolution of the planets." A math class might have "students learning fractions by examining composition in Warhol's Campbell's soup paintings." Doesn't that sound like a more engaging way to learn than the silly examples in a textbook?