Target: U.S. Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan
Goal: Place stronger emphasis on music education in American public schools.
The music arts are unfairly labeled as impractical, despite the fact that they offer many benefits to the developing brains of students. In the current academic climate, there is a huge push in favor of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, collectively known as the STEM fields. Although these fields are extremely important, the great emphasis placed upon them is pushing aside the humanities, relegating them to the lowest rung in the academic ladder. This is unfair for a variety of reasons. Music is a fundamental part of the human condition, and it has the capacity to teach students the value of perseverance and hard work.
Many researchers believe that music leads to a plethora of neurological benefits. According to the celebrated neurologist Oliver Sacks in his book Musicophilia, a researcher named Frances Rauscher once designed studies at the University of California at Irvine to test the effects of music on the brain. She and her team published their findings, which indicated that people who listened to Mozart had a temporary boost in abstract spatial reasoning. Although these results have been the subject of debate within the scientific community, other studies have provided conclusive evidence that musical training can bring about profound changes in the brains of young students.
Sacks goes on to relate a study performed by Takako Fujioka, which found that children who had been given a year of violin training demonstrated significant changes in the left hemispheres of their brains, compared to the children without the training. Dr. Sacks goes on to conclude that exposure to music stimulates the development of many important areas in the brain. To quote Dr. Sacks, “For the vast majority of students, music can be every bit as important educationally as reading or writing.”
Sign this petition to tell U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan that you would like to see a greater emphasis placed upon music education in U.S. public schools.
Dear Mr. Duncan,
I am concerned that public schools in the U.S. are not placing enough emphasis on music education. Music plays a meaningful role in the lives of many people, and it teaches students the value of hard work and persistence. In addition, it is widely believed among neurologists and cognitive scientists that music plays an important role in the development of students. For instance, one study showed that people who listened to Mozart experienced an increase in abstract spatial reasoning. Another study showed that significant changes took place in the left hemispheres of students who were given one year of violin training.
Although I understand the emphasis on science and technology, I feel that it is important that we do not let it push aside the humanities. I would like to see music pursued with the same rigor as mathematics, science, history, and English.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Khairil Zhafri via Flickr