Doing Good: Walton Arts Center helps students improve in other school subjects

Doing Good

The play, Digging Up Arkansas has helped improve students' understanding of state history.

Fayetteville, Ark. (KNWA) — The arts are helping area students learn all different subjects in school.

Excited kids take field trips to the Walton Arts Center throughout the year.

“They get to see theater. They might get to see music. They might get to see dance,” Laura Goodwin, the VP of Learning at the Walton Arts Center, said.

For the third through fifth graders, they likely saw “Digging Up Arkansas.”

“Digging Up Arkansas tells the story of Arkansas’ history from it’s first peoples to 1936 which is its hundredth anniversary and Roosevelt’s trip to Arkansas,” Goodwin said.

30,000 students have seen the play since 2009.

“The show was developed with the input of educators who told us that it was difficult to engage students in Arkansas history,” Goodwin said.

Produced by the Walton Arts Center, written by the theater teacher at Fayetteville High School and directed and performed by Trike Theater, it is a true collaboration between the arts and the schools.

“Not only do they make sure that every child has access to these resources in Northwest Arkansas, we now know that it helps them learn better,” Goodwin said.

The Walton Arts Center now has the data to back it up. A study by professors at The University of Missouri and Texas A&M measured the benefits of “Digging Up Arkansas.”

“Learning Arkansas history through Digging Up Arkansas made children more interested in history, it helped them identify more strongly with people in the past, we call that historical empathy and it made kids more interested in the arts in general,” Goodwin said.

The study has been published in the American Educational Research Association’s journal. So now, these results are being shared with educators all over the country.

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