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.
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)