It's nothing less than extraordinary. Dr. Francine Morin has
been studying the impact of the Sistema Winnipeg program on students
and her findings show that children are improving in aspects of
development well beyond appreciation for the arts.
Morin is a
professor in the Faculty of Education and head of the Department of
Curriculum, Teaching and Learning at the University of Manitoba. For her
study she spoke with students, parents and teachers about Sistema, the
after school music program running in two Winnipeg schools.
children tell her the program is contributing to a strong sense of
belonging. "Belonging has potential to contribute to a child's inner
well-being, their sense of identity and also has impact on successful
learning," she says. The children also report a sense of feeling helped,
comfortable, accepted and secure.
the students were extremely enthusiastic about the program, first
because of the opportunity it offers the children for musical
development at no cost. Beyond that, they reported their children are
more disciplined, more focused, proud and confident. Social skills have
also improved, they've learned to respect people and property, they're
more responsible and cooperative.
"They talked a lot about their child having more positive attitudes towards school, towards life in general, that there's a sense of joy in their life and happiness that wasn't there before," says Morin. They even reported the children had more energy, which is surprising given that they're required to stay an extra three hours every day after school.
Morin was also struck by the sense of pride the parents felt. "They just glowed when they talked about their children and how proud they are and in fact they nearly moved me to tears by the nature of their comments, the looks on their faces, the kind of emotional responses they evoked in me when I was listening to them speak," she says.
This study is from the first year of Sistema at Elwick School, so these are still early results but they do seem to indicate an improvement in academics. "Certainly we have parents suggesting kids' school work is getting better, we have teachers saying this kind of thing and we certainly have lots of evidence emerging from evaluations of other Sistema projects worldwide that the children who are intensely involved are actually making huge gains in their academic development and in fact they're out-performing their peers which is in keeping with much of the research done in this particular area."
Dr. Francine Morin, researcher (Jackie Duhard/U of M)
Morin says her results give the message that the arts should not be taken lightly in schools. "We really need to think about repositioning the arts much more centrally in the school curriculum because they are showing that there are so many other benefits other than just learning about artistic knowledge and skills in arts programs, but rather there's a whole range of dispositions and skills that children are learning through the arts. The arts are a critical part of children's learning."