Recently, I came across two excellent reports focused on using the Arts to power engaged learning.

The most recent is UNESCO’s ‘Releasing the Power of the Arts – Exploring Arts Education in the Asia-Pacific’, a very detailed case as to why the Arts is moving to the center of education in countries recognized for having some of the best education in the world, like South Korea (ranked #2) Singapore (ranked #3) and Hong Kong (ranked #5).

The second is from the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities focusing on using the Arts to help turn around low-performing schools. Developed in cooperation with the U.S. Department of Education and the White House Domestic Policy Council, the Turnaround Arts initiative is a public-private partnership designed to narrow the achievement gap and increase student engagement through the arts.

On the PCAH website is reference to its “landmark study ’Re-investing in Arts Education: Winning America’s Future Through Creative Schools’ which provides an in-depth study of arts education and its effect on student success.”

In the report’s recommendations, is coverage of three widely used approaches:

  1. Standards-based approach using certified arts specialists.  
  2. Arts integration relying more on classroom teachers.
  3. Teaching artists programs, typically involving working artists.

Each has its merits but generally the report recognizes the constraints of budgets as well as the pressure of ‘teaching for the test’ that has seen dramatic falls in the role of arts.

In an interesting footnote on Page 31 of the report, it says “Many state arts agencies have experienced dramatic budget reductions. The Florida state agency, for example, has less than $1 million for all state arts activities, including arts education, down from a high of $39 million. The Michigan state arts agency had a $29 million budget for grants in 2002 and now has $2 million for the entire state. (In Ohio)… over 80% of classroom teachers report receiving no professional development in the arts.  Arts-related field trips have declined and over one-third of schools have not had an arts related assembly in three years.”

None of this is really new.
That’s why, over 10 years ago, I started looking at ways to integrate the arts in ways that power a relationship with other classroom skills – and particularly literacy.

So it came as no surprise to read in the report that: “The documented benefits of arts integration have also been accumulating over the past decade, although only recently have researchers begun to understand why arts integration may hold unique potential as an educational reform model.
That is really worth reading a second time!

Additionally, I liked the following recommendation on page 50 of the report:

Recommendation 2. Develop the field of arts integration.
Many individuals cited the promise of the arts integration approach; we learned about model arts integration programs and efforts to train arts specialists and classroom teachers in arts integration methods. As arts integration has not received as much concerted attention as standards-based approaches, the field needs development and support to realize its full promise. We agree that the arts will have a more secure place in the curriculum when teachers experience firsthand the deepening of learning in their subjects that comes from incorporating arts teaching strategies, and working in collaboration with arts specialists and teaching artists.

No one agency or professional association “owns” arts integration, so the potential for development, including evaluation and codification of quality practices, is wide open. Further development of the field of arts integration will depend on initiatives undertaken by institutions of higher education (for both pre-service and in-service education), professional development providers (including state arts and education agencies, nonprofit arts organizations), and state agencies and private funders providing targeted support.”

End Thought
For Kindergarten, arts integration has actually received concerted attention from me in a standards-based approach. So naturally, I have offered Jazzles ELA as a best practice case study to PCAH. We have two theses to assist them

The lack of any publisher interest in Arts Integration, is why Jazzles ELA is the only scalable program of its type in the world.

Effectively, it comes as an ‘in-the-box’ package that can be rolled out today and made available to every school in the USA in time for August 2013.
Why and How?
Because all Jazzles ELA needs is an internet connection and a few web-hosted seminars to familiarize teachers with the methodology.
(Note: Music and drama teachers just get it straight away! It’s so intuitive!)

If you are looking for an Arts in Education/Integrated Arts Program for:

  • Kindergarten (and/or PreK) 
  • Virtual School
  • After Hours
  • Summer Camp
  • Mixed Ability/Diverse Classes

just contact me, Lesley Beth and I’ll deliver you a ‘PCAH-style’ package for you. It’s the only such program in the world!

Lesley Beth

 

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