Yesterday’s posting (link above) began my discussion on what I feel needs to be done to help our students and our struggling school structure. Not everything is broken, and there are many amazing teachers, school admin and school communities. On the flip side, there are a lot of things that need shoring up, some complete reforms and overhauls, and more investment in monies and support around the country, on all levels. ALL levels.
There are a variety of reasons that people don’t think arts have any importance in schools. Many do not see it as something to assess (especially drama, which does not always produce a tactile resource for displays, outside of photos or video). There is a gross misconception that the arts have little to no crossover applications to core curricula. The goal of arts in schools is not wasting time, or, as one “teacher” once said to me: “What are you going on about?(Theater)..You are nothing but a prep period to us!”. That individual’s statement is how I feel many see the arts: it’s wasting time, nothing of any real value.
Of course, I disagree. I never look at what I teach about working only to make the next Broadway or Movie STAR. In all honesty, that has to come totally from the kid. They have to want it, need it, breath it, live it. What I DO see in the importance of teaching the arts reaches into not only the core curriculum but also many life lessons.
Literacy, a major focus in schools, is deeply inherent in Drama, as well as studies in the other art disciplines. Math gets support in Dance and Music (counting beats; ability to modify and work within a structure) and Fine Arts (measures, construction, dimensions, perspective). History is approached in all the arts, not only of the art form but also of how it fits into the Socio/Economic/Political structure of the time period. I’ve only listed a few things that the arts already incorporate into the school community. I’m hoping more Arts people will chime in and add more in the comments.
Beyond that, the arts help in these life skills: presentation ability; research; critical thinking; problem solving; creative thought and creative voice expression; ensemble/team building; communication (listening and speaking); writing/notation; observation skills; focusing and following directions; inquiry; increasing vocabulary; making connections with studies and community; self confidence; and more. Are these skills things you can use in your life, work as well as personal? Of course. Can you find these things in the main school structure? Yes, but in the arts, these things are an extremely important component that is done daily, not when it fits into the curriculum map to teach it.
The above link is to a half hour audio portion of a radio show I happened to catch as it aired. I think it’s important to the subject above. He is speaking to Sharon Dunn, who at that time was the Executive Director of the NYC Department of Education’s Office of Arts and Special Projects, as well to those who called in. If you have a half hour, I do suggest you listen.
Beyond that, if you want to read some more on the subject:
I will be posting more links in the week ahead, and I WILL look for opposing viewpoints. You do need to make up your own mind on subjects like these, and it’s best if you have a balanced opinion. If I did not believe that I would not make the statement.
What are YOUR thoughts on Arts working with the Core Subjects? What other learning points do you feel the Arts have to offer? Do you feel differently? Why?
This is not for an argument or name calling, but to create dialogue and thought. Please be respectful to any and all comments.