This article confidently declares the arts are an essential, stress-fighting aspect of education, especially for children in urban settings. According to the author, Dennis W. Creedon, stress has a very negative effect on children and is “associated with health problems, school failures, and youth delinquency” (2011, p. 34). Violence in inner-city neighborhoods is a leading cause of stress for urban youth and this stress is associated with asthma, depression, fear and anxiety affecting attendance as well as “attention, memory, planning, and behavior control” (Shonkoff and Phillips, 2000: 213). Creedon explains the physiological aspects of stress: “When the mind is under emotional stress, it produces peptide cortisol” which “insulate[s] the mind from negative memories” (2011, p. 34). An abundance of this chemical prevents the absorption of information, hindering, even stopping learning. However, music and the arts, “promote the production of endorphin, and this peptide counteracts cortisol’s undesirable tendency to reduce students’ ability to concentrate” (Creedon, 2011, p.34). Higher levels or endorphin “enables students to manage personal stress and enhances their learning potentials” (Creedon, 2001, p.34). Visual art was integrated into a 2nd grade reading program and within a year, writing mastery had improved 50% and reading mastery 52% (Sylwester, 1994: 60). With this argument and the evidence, Creedon concludes “integrating arts-based creative processes into teaching and learning will enhance student mastery of critical content while it also supports the emotional and physical needs of our children” (2011, p. 36). Creedon also asserts that urban art and music education is “preventive pediatric medicine” and “with so many children coming into urban schools already overloaded with stress, ignoring their mental and physical health needs is unethical” (2011, p. 35). The article closes with an even greater implication: “to deny urban children arts education is societal child abuse” which has far reaching consequences because “a full education that includes the arts is the insurance we pay for our nation’s democracy” (Creedon, 2011, p. 36).
Creedon, Dennis W. “Fight the Stress of Urban Education with the Arts.” Kappan 92, no. 6 (March 2011): 34-36
Shonkoff, Jack P., and Deborah A. Phillips, eds. From Neurons to Neighborhoods: The Science of Early Childhood Development. Washington, D.C.: National Academies Press, 2000.
Sylwester, Robert. “How Emotions Affect Learning.” Educational Leadership 52, no. 2 (October 1994): 60-65.