APATA – The Australian Performing Arts Teachers Association

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International Day of Education

Posted by Team APATA | Jan 22, 2020

Exploring the big ‘A’ – ‘arts in education’ has for decades been proclaimed by teachers as a necessity in the classroom.

So why is arts education important for 21st century learning when the push is all about STEM?

Answer…the ‘A’ is missing in STEM and we need to claim it back!

The benefits of receiving an arts education are far-reaching and essential preparation for success in the 21st century. Through arts education regardless of discipline students are provided the opportunity to explore and hone their critical thinking and creativity while learning how to better work with others for a common goal.

Look no further than the work being undertaken and lead by industry practitioners to the likes of Dr Anita Collins, award-winning educator, researcher and writer in the field of brain development and music learning. An internationally renowned practitioner recognised for her unique work in translating the scientific research of neuroscientists and psychologists to the everyday parent, teacher and student. ABC documentary ‘Don’t Stop the Music’ where Anita played the critical role of onscreen expert and campaigner for the three-part series keenly focuses national attention on the benefits of music education for all children.

Anita is currently expert education advisor for the Canberra Symphony Orchestra, Australian Chamber Orchestra, Australian Independent School Association, Brand Anonymous Productions in the UK, Artemis Productions in Australia, Music Education Research Counsellor for Music Australia, a Founding Director of the Rewire Foundation and Associate Fellow of Music, Mind and Wellbeing at the University of Melbourne.

Another campaigning the importance of arts in education is none other than Sir Ken Robinson. Robinson believes arts education is imperative “to enable students to understand the world around them, and the talents within them, so that they can become fulfilled individuals and active, compassionate citizens.” He doesn’t deny that learning information about the world is important, but he says it’s equally important for students to understand their own talents, motivations and passions if they are going to lead lives that satisfy them.

Robinson firmly believes that creativity is a central element of what sets humans apart from other forms of life on earth and so educators’ mission should be to bring out the unique creative energy within each child. Sir Ken Robinson is an internationally acclaimed expert on creativity and innovation, and the author of ‘Finding Your Element’, ‘The Element’, and ‘Out of Our Minds’. He also has the most viewed TED talk of all time with over 45 million views –“Do Schools Kill Creativity?” He is one of the most influential voices in education and the arts today.

Through arts education the skill set of children to become successful, well-rounded thinkers in an ever-changing economy is essential. Here are five critical skills students learn through arts education and participation.


Art education allows students to express themselves and think outside of the box. Creativity is one of the top skills that set someone apart from the pack. The ability to think imaginatively and bring fresh ideas to the table are essential to innovation and progress in the real world and workplace environment.

Critical Thinking

Artistic practice is a process that includes conceptual and interpretational thinking that helps build critical thinking skills including observation, reasoning, and problem-solving. During the creative process, children use logic and problem solving to strategise how to reach their intended outcome. The ability to think critically to solve problems in a unique way is key to the 21st century employment.


Working together teaches children that their contribution is important. Arts by nature is collaborative. By working collaboratively on a project, students learn to communicate more effectively and compromise when necessary.


The arts create a safe space for students to explore their talents and build their confidence. With this confidence, they are more likely to take risks and step out of their comfort zone to try new things in other areas of their lives.

Cultural Awareness & Empathy

The arts provide a unique platform to discuss many different cultures. Through the arts, students have a place not only to learn about different cultures but also to ask questions and be more informed about the daily lives and realities of others who may seem different. By learning about others, children can develop their ability for empathy.

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