The President’s Committee on Arts & Humanities released a report in 2011 entitled Reinvesting in Arts Education. The report included a long list of evidence to support the benefits of integrating art throughout various disciplines in schools by “teaching ‘through’ and ‘with’ the arts”. These benefits included fewer discipline problems, increased graduation rates, and improved test scores. Even more interesting, using artistic mediums to teach, led to more interest in the subject matter, increased motivation to learn the topic at hand, and even the “advantage of embedding knowledge in long-term memory”. Simply put, art not only makes things more fun and enjoyable to learn, it helps the brain to convert information in deeper, more meaningful ways that we remember longer.
While the President’s report encourages schools to use these benefits to improve learning in subject areas such as science, math and language arts, there are great implications for learning other things – like positive body image and media literacy. These are the goals of The Center for Eating Disorders’ Love Your Tree Campaign. Now in its 8th year, Love Your Tree is arts-based campaign open to middle school, high school and college-aged youth, many of whom subscribe very strongly to our culture’s “thin ideal”.
“Thin-ideal internalization refers to the extent to which an individual cognitively “buys into” socially defined ideals of attractiveness and engages in behaviors designed to produce an approximation of these ideals.” (source)
Love Your Tree utilizes the creative poster-making process, media literacy skills and cognitive dissonance theory to help students internalize new ideals that support body diversity and self-acceptance. Based on the President’s Report, using art as the educational tool helps to convey this knowledge in an effective, enjoyable way. It also means that positive changes in body image that take place throughout participation in the campaign are more likely to be long-lasting. Why is this important? A positive body image is associated with higher levels of self-esteem overall and can serve as a protective factor against the development of eating disorders.
The 8th Annual Love Your Tree (LYT) campaign launches officially on July 12th. Visit the LYT website to find out how your school or community organization can get involved and schedule a Love Your Tree workshop.
Questions? Call (410) 427-3886
*Love Your Tree posters from past years will be on display in a traveling exhibit on August 25th through September 2nd, 2013 at The Shops at Kenilworth in Towson, MD. We invite you to stop by to view the artwork and get more information about the campaign.