Fiddler On The Roof (Ultimate Blog Challenge #10)

Ultimate Blog Challenge

I believe in Arts In Education (AIE).  I believe that arts integration into core curriculum is a proven time tested model  of success for the students. There are so many different types of learners, and when the arts are used in a classroom, the chances of engaging, connecting to the material, making outside of the classroom connections, and deeper understanding can be achieved. 100% successful? Nothing is-nothing is perfect. While many seem to fight the idea of Arts having any real importance and that it has no place in the classroom, the truth is it’s been there for a long time.  Maybe not named as such, but it’s been there.

I bring this up because I saw AIE in action yesterday. An exchange student from Venezuela had the lead in his school’s production of “Fiddler on the Roof.”  Yes, he played Tevye. Eight months ago, he spoke NO English.

I met him and his host family at Poetry Out Loud, a National Recitation Contest a few months ago.When you say someone is electrifying in meeting them,  that was DJ. He captivated the poetry audience, and he did so again in his role in Fiddler.

The arts helped propel his learning and understanding of English. The arts built his confidence (which I understand was already high to begin with) to sing FOR THE FIRST TIME in a show. He learned new life lessons along the way in both poetry and musical theater…and that is probably only the tip of the ice berg for him. I wish him all the success he can handle in life.

When I was the Chair and Special Projects Manager for American Voices for the NYC Department of Education, I saw AIE in full bloom. Yes, it was our mandate to infuse Theater Arts in core Social Studies curricula, but what made it real was seeing it in action and hearing students responses first hand.

The most gratifying comment I heard was from a student in The Bronx. The unit was based in the 1920’s and was integrating  Jazz  and the play “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom” into the lesson plans. After the Social Studies & Drama teacher collaboratively taught a class together, I asked the students for some feedback on this unit of study (which is one of the ones I helped write). One girl said “This is the first time I actually like Social Studies. I wish we could do this more.” Paraphrasing a bit, but that was the gist of what she said. Many agreed with her, and I heard that again and again, in written form and from feedback from the teachers involved.

These are only two examples. I have many more from my years as both a NYC Drama Teacher and as a Teaching Artist.

The Arts are Alive, not just for entertainment purposes but for a deep level of education. Please support Arts In Education.

Arts Education Partnership
National Endowment for the Arts
Americans For the Arts

What are you doing to support the arts?

Tale Spinning: an experiment in writing (my other blog, working with the A to Z blog challenge. Enjoy)

11 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Yogasavy
    Apr 10, 2011 @ 15:00:35

    Teaching any art form is gratifying especially when one sees the fire light up within a student.


  2. Lisa
    Apr 10, 2011 @ 15:40:52

    I’ve also seen how the arts boost self-confidence and self-esteem in students who started out as introverts. People of all ages benefit from learning alternate means of expressing themselves, whether it’s by playing an instrument, writing, acting, or painting.


    • T.S. Redmond-Mize
      Apr 10, 2011 @ 16:21:19

      Agreed- this was going to be the gist of my comment, as well.
      It never fails to irk me how much emphasis is placed on sports while leaving art out in the cold. I get that the revenue potential is greater, but you know what? If more schools did place an emphasis on the arts, they could produce more revenue through them to support those programs. They just don’t, so, they can’t. It makes no sense.


      • bornstoryteller
        Apr 10, 2011 @ 16:28:48

        One of the key things I found out is: sometimes it just really depends on the principal to support it or not. Funding aside, there are other ways to support.

        I left my school for a number of reasons: (1) hated it (2) hated the principal. In my last year there, she (1) told me to my face, in front of many others, that “Fifth Grade Cheerleading is more important then what you do” (I’ll never forget that) and (2) my Drama kids production was brought to perform at a city wide school event ON Broadway. ON BROADWAY! Not only did she not come, not only did she not let the PTA parents know, but she also never announced or praised the kids for their work, except just to them. Never a school wide acknowledgment.
        Now, if something came with a big fat award..she was all over it.

        There are too many out there just like that. Sad to say.

  3. bornstoryteller
    Apr 10, 2011 @ 15:43:23

    We just need the nimnuts who want to cut this/slash funding see what we see


  4. Marvin Dado
    Apr 10, 2011 @ 18:37:12

    I’d have to check with you here. Which is not something I commonly do! I enjoy reading a post that will make citizen think. Also, thanks for allowing me to comment!


  5. Marcia Hoeck
    Apr 11, 2011 @ 04:04:54

    Hey Stuart, some good heavy commentary on your blog — I like it! Having spent my childhood wanting to be an artist and nothing else, I don’t remember much encouragement or opportunity at school. And drama was practically non-existent. It never occurred to me that I was being shortchanged, while sports got all the attention. But as an adult, I know so many who would have blossomed had they gotten an opportunity to act or paint or sculpt or express themselves at a younger age — as sports did not resonate for them. Thanks for the thoughtful post.


    • bornstoryteller
      Apr 11, 2011 @ 11:25:25

      Marcia..thank you for the comment. Yes, it’s a shame that the Arts get tossed out the window so often once you hit MS/JHS. Normally, Elementary school teachers use Art, Music, Drama and Dance/Movement, but not integrated as much into the core curriculum. It’s almost always separate. I agree with what you stated: who knows how many people could have grown in so many ways if they had been allowed to express their creative voice.


  6. Roy A. Ackerman
    Apr 11, 2011 @ 11:23:33

    With all the chicken little’s screaming slash and burn (as they cut revenues and expenses), it is up to us to take Tevye’s words to heart… No, there is NO other hand.
    Stand up for education, for arts, and for basic needs. Raise revenue to insure these critical items don’t disappear.


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