Posts Tagged ‘arts in education’

How is it that quality arts education works – it is almost magic how children who are usually difficult or don’t do well in school, will become engrossed, work hard, and be proud of their work. What is it, that’s different from regular school?

I think part of it is that good arts education is good education, period – children are really learning, and learning is inherently empowering.

Kids are hard-wired to learn. The trick is to get them to learn what we want them to learn.

In order to grow, try, stretch, take risks, you must have a safe environment. I believe many children are constrained by fear, that everyone will see that they are bad or stupid. A good proportion of young children have parents who are getting divorced or otherwise are unable to provide a stable, loving environment, which sets up children to be afraid they are bad. I think this is often at the root of disruptive and self-destructive behavior – trying to distract from having to perform.

Then, in school, children are tested many times a day – they are asked to perform, often material they are not ready for. State standards in Alaska say that children should learn to read in kindergarten, even though there is general acceptance that most children are not ready to read until age six – which means that while many are ready earlier,  many are not ready until age seven or later. In recent years there has been a huge increase in the amount of “assessment” that is part of the school day.

With good (arts) education, there is a safe environment, and children are not graded or judged.

With good arts or any education, students move step by step, mastering one skill before building on it.

And finally, the material is interesting, even inspiring –  material the student can master. Learning gives you a sense of control over your world. Success gives you confidence,the feeling that you matter, and can try other things that might be difficult at first.

I believe much of what is taught is not the material so much as the attitude of the teacher: a genuine interest in each student, and a passion for the material, that leads the student to want to keep learning, toward the attitude that the world is an interesting place, and that they are able to contribute to what goes on in it.

And on top of that there are the benefits of making art – personal expression. You are making your mark, affecting the world with your unique performance.

And even  beyond that, through art there is that possibility of deep communication with others – the way only art can satisfy – that connection to all the world, all times. What makes life worth living.

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