It happens over and over again. When budgets get cut, art programs are always the first to go. And despite numerous studies that prove there’s a strong correlation between an art education and a myriad of positive attributes (creative problem-solving, leadership and communication skills, innovation, empathy, and even better grades and a higher chance of graduation), art funding throughout the years has decreased a whopping 43.4%. But, luckily, the most forward-thinking schools are stepping out of the traditional classroom and looking to drive arts education in alternative and more cost-effective ways.

So how can your school or district close the creativity gap caused by slashed arts budgets? Here are five ways to do it:

1. Drive creative learning that’s flexible and accessible

Today, teenagers spend an average of 8.5 hours a day in front of a screen. More than any other generation before them, high school students are confident in using technology to fulfill their needs. They’re self-reliant and seek out information on their own terms. They want to learn how they want to learn. 

Educators need to bridge the gap between in-classroom teaching and out-of-classroom self-learning in order to enable choice, encourage autonomy, and inspire creativity online or offline. When a student can choose the way they learn and what topics they want to learn about, they will learn to take full ownership of their education.

Michael Nelson, the Director of Assessment and System Performance at Coeur d’Alene Schools in Idaho, uses Skillshare to drive diverse learning opportunities for their students. “There’s a lot of flexibility with Skillshare. Since each Skillshare course is bite-sized, we plan to assign a course to our students during class. But we also plan to enable our students to choose their own course and present the results to the class.”

2. Implement micro-credentialing for students and faculty

The best high schools in the country are investing in micro-credential programs that drive skill-based learning and high engagement. These programs ensure that students will leave high school knowing practical skills like graphic design, presentation skills, or video editing. For example, a teacher can offer an online Adobe Photoshop curriculum for their students. Once all the assigned courses are completed, the students will be recognized with a badge or a certificate.

Michael Nelson of Coeur d’Alene Schools sees micro-credentialing as beneficial to not just the students, but to the entire faculty, office, technical, and custodial staff. “We believe we are a forward-thinking district and we are always looking for ways to enhance learning in and outside of the classroom.”

3. Incorporate lessons taught by practitioners and industry experts

Here’s a crazy statistic: only 46% of high school students think that what they learn in school will actually be applicable in life. Here’s what’s crazier: this same study found that 54% of middle school students feel the same, showing that as students get closer to the real world, their perspective on their studies actually diminishes. 

By the time students hit high school, they’ve grown accustomed to in-classroom lessons from teachers. But bringing real-life instruction into their learning — online or in the classroom — can drastically change their perspective on a topic. By learning from real-life practitioners, they will more easily see how school is applicable to the real world rather than just something they’re forced to complete in order to graduate. 

4. Integrate creativity into science or math curriculums

Creativity isn’t just within the confines of the arts — it also works with science and math education (which just goes to show how universal creative skills really are). A study in 2011 found that integrating art with other subjects resulted in higher test scores and improved learning

Here are some examples: students can use art to make scientific illustrations of the human body or cells. They can complete artwork that features a Fibonacci sequence or create tessellations to explore formulas in the style of M.C. Escher. The possibilities are endless for driving creativity outside of arts education.

Interested in how you can drive creativity for your entire school or district in an easy, affordable way? Learn more about how Skillshare for Schools can help.

Written by:

Esther Chung