Koushik Podder is Multi disciplinary Art Practitioner & Founder Director for Sastrika A Unit of Performing Arts, Kolkata
Human development describes a complex web of factors affecting the health and well-being of individuals across the lifespan. Together, these factors yield cognitive and behavioral outcomes that can shape the social and economic circumstances of individuals, their levels of creativity and productivity, and overall quality of life.
Increasingly in the 21st century, U.S. policy leaders in health and education have recognized a need for strategies and interventions to address “the whole person.” They have urged a more integrated approach to policy development—one that can reach Americans at various stages of their lives, across generations, and in multiple learning contexts.
The arts are ideally suited to promote this integrated approach. In study after study, arts participation and arts education have been associated with improved cognitive, social, and behavioral outcomes in individuals across the lifespan: in early childhood, in adolescence and young adulthood, and in later years.
This emerging body of evidence appears to support a need for greater integration of arts activities into health and educational programs for children, youth, and older adults. Yet further research is necessary so that policymakers and practitioners can understand the pathways and processes by which the arts affect human development, thereby enhancing the efficacy of arts-based practices in optimizing health and educational outcomes for Americans of all ages.