Tagged “Arts Integration”

Klea Scharberg

Advocating for Well-Rounded Education

As supporters of a whole child approach to education, we believe that each student must receive equal access to a credible, comprehensive, and well-rounded education that includes instruction in all core academic subjects—English, reading or language arts, mathematics, science, foreign languages, civics and government, economics, arts, history, and geography—delivered at appropriate times throughout the school experience. Credible and comprehensive instruction should also apply to physical education and health education.

Each of these subjects is crucial to a student's learning in its own right, and no single subject should be considered more important than another. Indeed, the combination of the subjects and the interrelationship among disciplines enhances learning and understanding for each student. Moreover, a well-rounded education provides students with the academic preparation and knowledge to succeed in the increasingly global marketplace and in our own complex and ever-changing society.

In July 2010, ASCD and major education organizations representing a wide array of subject areas released consensus recommendations for how the federal government can better support core subjects beyond reading and math during a policy briefing on Capitol Hill. The policy recommendations are a response to the No Child Left Behind Act's singular focus on student performance in reading and math in addition to the Obama administration's Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) blueprint and FY11 budget request, which continue to prioritize reading and math over other subjects.

As part of her testimony, educator, artist, writer, theater maker, and mother Kate Quarfordt said:

I know that when we talk about the importance of ensuring every kid in America gets a well-rounded education, we're not talking about funding cute and cuddly side projects; we're talking about one of the crucial factors that determines whether we graduate healthy, engaged kids who are ready for college, career, and citizenship—or funnel kids into the dropout machine, into the welfare system, into our nation's prisons, and onto the street.

Now, I know that may sound extreme, but I'm here because I know firsthand that every time our nation's schools miss an opportunity to engage kids in broad-based and transformative learning that persuades them to stay in school, graduate, go to college, and participate meaningfully in the world, we lose them. When their experience of school is limited to cramming for standardized tests in a limited number of subjects, we lose them. As a nation, we are losing them at a rate of 7,000 kids every school day; 1 dropout every 26 seconds. And when we lose kids, especially in neighborhoods like the one I work in, most of them don't get a second chance. But when we offer them an education that is well-rounded, that engages them in multiple interconnected ways of seeing the world, that feels relevant to who they are and who they can become, great things happen.

Organizations continue to sign on to endorse the policy recommendations, but what can you do? Whole Child Partner Americans for the Arts asked why arts matter and one of the winners, Student Advocates for the Arts, answered.

"Every child should have access and have a well-rounded education. And they cannot have a well-rounded education without the arts."
—Richard Kessler, executive director, Center for Arts Education, and musician

Student Advocates for the Arts (SAA) is a grassroots student organization dedicated to educating on and advocating for public policy affecting the arts in the United States. Founded in 2002 by graduate students in the Arts Administration Program at Teachers College, Columbia University, SAA engages students in hands-on lobbying, workshops on advocacy and cultural policy, and discussions on the American system for funding the arts. Read SAA's guest post on Americans for the Arts' ARTSblog.

Act now! Sign the Whole Child Petition asking your state board of education to support policies and practices that ensure each student is healthy, safe, engaged, supported, and challenged. When your state has reached its goal, we will deliver the petition to your state board of education.

Judy Willis

Art for Attention

The brain's information intake filter admits only about 1 percent of the sensory input available each second. That means that because all learning enters the brain as sensory input, teachers need to be sure their lesson material "makes the cut."

This involuntary filter in the low brainstem, called the reticular activating system (RAS), gives priority to novel sensory information. First priority goes to novel sensory information interpreted as potentially threatening—thus the need to have a strong classroom community; interventions to reduce states of sustained high stress; and the trust of your students that you will do all you can to intervene when actions by classmates threaten their property, physical, and emotional safety.

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ASCD Whole Child Bloggers

Benefits of Arts Education Experiences

Post submitted by Janet Rubin. Rubin, with John Ceschini, facilitates the ASCD Arts in Education Professional Interest Community, which works to elevate the status of the arts as an important curriculum component. It provides a forum for educators to share ideas and activities for teaching the arts and fosters liaisons with other arts-in-education groups and curriculum specialists.

In the 21st century, young people will require an education that addresses the whole child. Today's learner will need to acquire critical thinking and creative competencies. The work place will demand skills in problem solving, innovation, adaptation, working collaboratively, demonstrating initiative, productivity, taking responsibility, and leadership. The complex world in which today's students will live requires that they communicate clearly, understand social and cultural contexts, and have the ability to be flexible in the face of challenges and changing circumstances. The arts give students opportunities to develop and refine these critical skills.

Research supports the benefits of arts education. The Dana Foundation, for example, has sponsored summits and posted research on its website that notes connections between arts training and learning, cognition, focus on task, memory, creative thinking, and general intelligence. Training in music, for example, correlates with the ability to differentiate and manipulate sounds—a predictor of reading fluency—and training in drama and theatre suggests better social skills, increased motivation, and improved memory. Another connection addresses equity, as socioeconomically disadvantaged students have benefited significantly from arts education experiences.

On the website and in publications of the Arts Education Partnership (AEP), resources and research further the case for the arts. AEP's mission centers on the essential role of the arts in students' success. In addition to the Dana Foundation and AEP, many other professional organizations, government agencies, foundations, and research institutes are sources for arts education support and advocacy. Anecdotal evidence also abounds, not the least of which are the heartfelt testimonials of students whose lives have been enriched through the arts.

The arts engage students in ways that other subjects may not, providing ways into learning that compliment learning styles and encourage creative risk taking. The arts are process-oriented, facilitate inquiry, and promote self-expression. Through the arts, children can see themselves as creators who value their own ideas and respect the ideas of others. This gateway to learning helps them to understand that there is not always a right answer to a question or that there may be multiples ways to address a problem. The arts allow them to learn both from their successes and from their mistakes. The positive results are tangible, both in terms of arts content learning and in the ability to understand and communicate meaning across disciplines. In addition, the arts can make positive social changes as they open doors to knowledge. Through arts experiences, students learn to value their own ideas and to respect the ideas of others. Their talents are nurtured as their potential is realized.

Ten Arts Education Benefits

  1. Improve academic performance
  2. Result in better attendance and lower dropout rates
  3. Level the playing field for students from disadvantaged socioeconomic backgrounds
  4. Build self-esteem
  5. Foster self-confidence and self-expression
  6. Improve academic and performance skills for children with learning disabilities
  7. Improve literacy skills
  8. Foster motivation
  9. Create empathy for and understanding of others
  10. Improve oral and written communication skills

In what other ways do arts education experiences benefit students in your school and community?

ASCD Professional Interest Communities are member-initiated groups designed to unite people around a common area of interest in the field of education. Flexible, fluid, and based on the needs of its participants, each professional interest community is operated independently and provides different resources to its members.

Judy Willis

Art for Joyful Learning

The brain, in animals and humans, evolved to better protect the well-being of its owner and species. Expending energy without the expectation of imminent satisfaction is not part of the survival programming of the brain. Effort and attention are limited commodities that the brain parses out to the actions it predicts will be successful in protection or pleasure. To predict the likelihood that effort will result in successful outcomes, the brain uses the outcome of previous experiences.

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ASCD Whole Child Bloggers

Learning In and Through the Arts

After analyzing four years of data, we know that of the five tenets of a whole child approach to education, "engagement" is the tenet that whole child supporters are most interested in. A major factor in ensuring each student is healthy, safe, supported, and challenged is engaging them in the process of building each critical dimension.

For example, school leaders can choose to ban cell phones because of cyberbullying concerns, but that response treats the symptom rather than the problem and does not engage students in the process of creating a safe place. Alternatively, giving students the opportunity to create a play that illuminates the realities of cyberbullying allows them to construct and demonstrate their understanding of its effects. How might we consistently engage students in the process of making their schools and communities safer places, healthier environments, more supportive climates, and more rigorous and challenging learning cultures?

Research and years of experience reinforce the power of integrating the arts to engage students in every dimension of learning and development. Arts integration has been defined by teaching artists, teachers, education specialists, and leading arts organizations as "an approach to teaching in which students construct and demonstrate understanding through an art form." When the arts are integrated, students are more engaged because they take on a more active role in learning by experiencing things directly and expressing themselves in multiple ways. They are challenged to take what they learn, build a deeper understanding, and then do something with it. When the arts are integrated well, students are involved in making decisions about their learning. But you don't have to take our word about the power of integrating the arts.

According to the Search Institute, interviews with several thousand U.S. teenagers yielded more than 200 different inspirations that enrich teens' lives, excite them, and tap into their true passions. In the top 10 were participating in or leading art, dance, drama, music, writing, or other creative arts activities. Researcher, author, and consultant Robert Marzano states, "One is struck by the superior findings reported for visual and dramatic instruction over verbal instruction in terms of the percentage of information recalled by students one year after the completion of the unit."

This month on wholechildeducation.org, we're focusing on the power of engaging students in learning through the arts. Join us as we continue to change the conversation about how learning can and should take place inside and outside the classroom—and learn about and contribute resources, ideas, inspiration, and examples of arts integration on the Whole Child Blog and this month's Whole Child Podcast.

Klea Scharberg

On Education and Creativity

Creativity expert and author Sir Ken Robinson says that creativity is as important to education as literacy. Schools however, he adds, could be doing a better job of widening their understanding of intelligence to move education beyond a protracted preparation for careers as university professors.

Picasso once said this, he said that "all children are born artists. The problem is to remain an artist as we grow up." I believe this passionately: That we don't grow into creativity; we grow out of it. Or, rather, we get educated out of it.

Every education system on earth has the same hierarchy of subjects. Every one, doesn't matter where you go. You'd think it would be otherwise, but it isn't. At the top are mathematics and languages, then the humanities, and at the bottom are the arts. Everywhere on earth. And in pretty much every system, too, there's a hierarchy within the arts. Art and music are normally given a higher status in schools than drama and dance. There isn't an education system on the planet that teaches dance every day to children the way we teach them mathematics. Why? Why not? I think this is rather important. I think maths is very important, but so is dance.

After watching the film, consider the following questions and exercises alone or with colleagues at your school.

  1. Do you agree with Robinson that public education is, in fact, educating children out of their creativity? Why or why not?
  2. Robinson defines creativity as the process of "having original ideas that have value." Using that definition, cite examples of the last time that you or one of your students came up with a creative idea. What criteria did you use to determine the idea's value?
  3. Brainstorm ways that you might allow students more creative outlets in your subject area or daily classroom routine.

Creativity is part of being human, and everyone has it in various areas and to different degrees, say experts. So how can schools do a better job of recognizing and encouraging creativity during class to stimulate thinking and as preparation for the future work arena? ASCD Express offers numerous examples of programs, approaches, and activities that schools are using to unlock this often untapped potential in their students.

Judy Willis

The Brain Learns Creatively When Arts Are in the Picture

The current theme of the critical role of the arts in providing students with a well-rounded education that meets the needs of the whole child promotes thoughts about how the arts can "increase students' college-, career-, and citizenship-readiness in all subjects as well as keep them engaged in school and contribute to their social and emotional health."

The arts are not optional, separate entities that can be isolated into short periods of playing with clay. The arts, by nature, are opportunities for creativity. There is creativity for personal expression in art interpretation as well as in artistic production and performance. The increasing buzz about a creativity crisis comes at a time when neuroscience and cognitive science research are increasingly providing information that correlates creativity with intelligence; academic, social, and emotional success; and the development of skill sets and the highest information processing (executive functions) that will become increasingly valuable for students of the 21st century.

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Klea Scharberg

Peter Yarrow Is for Whole Child Education

Musician Peter Yarrow of Peter, Paul and Mary—and guest on this month's arts in education–themed Whole Child Podcast—believes in a whole child approach to education. If you stand for whole child education, you can speak out for it, too! Contact your senators, and ask them to support the National Whole Child Resolution, S. Res. 478, which makes a whole child approach to education a national priority and designates March as "National Whole Child Month." Don't forget to sign the Whole Child Petition to tell your state board of education that it must do more to educate the whole child.

Podcast Whole Child Podcast

The Critical Role of the Arts Throughout a Whole Child Education

Download Podcast Now [Right-Click to Save]

The arts play an essential role in providing each student with a well-rounded education that meets the needs of the whole child. Although classes strictly focused on music, visual arts, drama, dance, and art history are critical, integrating the arts across the curriculum is also key to ensuring that students are healthy, safe, engaged, supported, and challenged. How can we provide students with a well-rounded education that includes learning through and about the arts? How can policy and practice support the integration of arts across the curriculum?

Download this episode of the Whole Child Podcast to learn how the arts can increase students' college-, career-, and citizenship-readiness in all subjects as well as keep them engaged in school and contribute to their social and emotional health. You'll hear from

  • Peter Yarrow, recording artist and founder of Operation Respect and United Voices for Education, who will share the importance and joy of integrating the arts throughout the curriculum to support a respectful, safe, and compassionate climate.
  • Mike Blakeslee, senior deputy executive director and chief operating officer of (Whole Child Partner) MENC: The National Association for Music Education, who will share how policy and practice can support the inclusion and integration of the arts throughout a well-rounded education.
  • Vanessa Lopez, an exceptional arts educator from Roland Park Elementary/Middle School in Baltimore, Md., who will share how she is working to integrate the arts throughout the curriculum and the effect that it is having on students.

How are you or how is your school integrating the arts throughout the curriculum? What are the benefits to students?

Klea Scharberg

From the Master Class to the Classroom, At Home and After School

Whole child partner the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts revealed its redesigned ARTSEDGE website this past weekend—a resource for arts and arts-integrated educational content and a go-to site for educators around the country looking for lesson plans, multimedia-enhanced instruction, and performance footage.

But the site is not just for teachers. The new ARTSEDGE has a fresh look and portals for educators, families, and students—and a way to personalize experiences with myARTSEDGE, a new feature that allows users to save, organize, and share their favorite site resources. "Our mission was originally focused on providing research and resources for teachers, but research now shows the need to provide resources for students themselves," says Darrell M. Ayers, vice president for education at the Kennedy Center. "Resources used to be embedded in lesson plans for teachers, but the new site now highlights resources in a more easily navigable way for students to access."

Arts play an essential role in providing each student with a well-rounded education that meets the needs of the whole child. Reading Shakespeare aloud in English class reinforces reading, inflection, and diction; learning music teaches math concepts like counting, division, and fractions; and dance study imparts a knowledge of kinesiology and reinforces healthy, active activities. "Arts as a discipline is important, but learning through the arts enhances curricula and educational experiences," said Ayers.

They Might Be Giants at the Kennedy Center

Kicking off the redesign, the Kennedy Center hosted a free, all-ages concert with Grammy winners They Might Be Giants. Watch the archived concert and enjoy songs about the letters of the alphabet and geography ("Alphabet of Nations"), counting ("Nonagon"), science and animals ("I Am a Paleontologist"), history ("James K. Polk"), and other fan favorites.

Check out the new ARTSEDGE site, and watch a video, listen to a podcast, and think about how you can integrate the arts into your classroom and with your family.

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