While schools today are under mandated pressure to teach children facts and figures in time for a yearly test, children are losing the opportunity for what has been traditionally known as a "well-rounded education". Without a meaningful context, facts and figures become fragmented trivia, disconnected from a child's experience and evaluation.
The arts, in all their forms, bring that meaningful context to the classroom. When individual students make connections between what they are studying and the physical and emotional world they live in, that learning "sticks". By provoking emotion the arts stimulate the "brain in the heart", spoken of by Joseph Chilton Pearce.
Lucy School aims to help establish the notion that the ideas, perceptions and connections provoked and engaged by arts integration are themselves a part of complete understanding, whether it is in science, math, or history.
Breaking News for those interested in Arts Integration!
The President's Committee on Arts and the Humanities has just released a report and recommendations regarding the importance the arts should play in education. The document, Reinvesting in Arts Education: Winning America's Future Through Creative Schools (May, 2011), calls for developing the field of arts integration, expanding in-school opportunities for teaching artists, building collaborations among different arts education approaches, and utilizing federal and state policies to reinforce the place of arts in K-12 education. "At this moment in our nation's history, there is great urgency around major transformation in American's schools... Students who graduate from high school are increasingly the products of narrowed curricula, lacking the creative and critical thinking skills needed for success in post secondary education and the workforce. In such a climate, the outcomes associated with arts education - which include increased academic achievement, school engagement, and creative thinking - have become increasingly important. Decades of research show strong and consistent links between high-quality arts education and a wide range of impressive educational outcomes.... Arts integration models, the practice of teaching across classroom subjects in tandem with the arts, have been yielding some particularly promising results in school reform and closing the achievement gap. Most recently, cutting-edge studies in neuroscience have been further developing our understanding of how arts strategies support crucial brain development in learning."
"The PCAH envisions schools in cities and towns across our nation that are alive with the energy of creative thinking and fresh ideas, full of art, music and movement. All of our research points to the success of schools that are "arts-rich," in which students who may have fallen by the wayside find themselves re-engaged in learning when their enthusiasm for film, design, theater or even hip-hop is tapped into by their teachers. More advanced students also reap rewards in this environment, demonstrating accelerated learning and sustained levels of motivation."
Lucy School is proud to be on the cutting edge of integrating the arts as a powerful medium for learning. The report was released this past weekend at the Arts Education Partnership National Forum in Washington DC. Lucy School was one of six model arts integration schools invited to present its practice and methodology at the same forum. Deloris McCafferty, principal from New Albany K-1 Elementary School in New Albany, Ohio, (also showcased at the forum), transformed her school into an arts integrated model after bringing nine teachers to Lucy School's Summer Arts Integration Institute. She included a slide of Lucy School in her presentation and told the audience, "When I saw the Lucy School, I was determined to give my students and teachers the same quality program."
You can download a free copy of the full report of "Reinvesting in Arts Education: Winning America's Future Through Creative Schools" at www.pcah.gov, the website of the President's Committee on the Arts and the Humanities.
21st Century Learning Skills at Lucy School!So much is being heard these days in education circles and in the field of arts integration about 21st Century Education/Learning with schools across the country scrambling to adjust. What's the deal? In short, this is an initiative put forth in 2002 by the Department of Education in response to growing concern that our current system of schooling is not preparing children for the demands of the 21st century. This educational paradigm, designed in the 19th century to prepare students for work in an industrial age, is thus being revised to meet the needs of a global economy transformed by technological advances and environmental changes.
A new education paradigm, based on current research on how children learn, promotes creativity, innovation, critical thinking, communication and collaboration as essential learning skills. Indeed, learning and innovation skills are increasingly being recognized as the skills that separate students prepared for a rapidly changing world, and those who are not. Yet, as evident by the past 150 years, school change does not happen quickly – particularly when we have moved to a further extreme that places a burdensome emphasizes on testing and standardization.
Lucy School families know that these are precisely the learning skills Lucy School values and has valued – long before the 21st Century bandwagon came to town. We use the arts as a learning methodology, not only because they engage and motivate children, but because they provide the most effective strategies for nurturing imagination, creativity and innovation and provide opportunity for divergent thinking – the ability to see lots of possible way to interpret or solve a problem. For example, in drama children improvise solutions for challenges and conflict within the plot. Teachers are often heard asking, “What else could we do to solve this problem?” In the art room you would never see Andrea showing the children how to draw a tree, or what colors to use – we value purple leaves and “dragon tail” branches. In dance/music you can hear Monica eagerly pointing out children’s different interpretations of “cats walking in snow” or helping primary children notate the melody to the song they have created. Story dramatization, long know to enhance literacy skills, also provides practice in divergent thinking as students make choices in character personification, inference making and acting out alternate scenarios. In primary grades, children are engaged in imagined conversations and debates between characters from literature and history. All of the arts provide rich opportunity for exploring the open-ended question, "What if...?"
Another excellent methodology we utilize at Lucy School for fostering creativity, innovation and collaboration is project-based learning. This is a hands-on instructional methodology that provides authentic learning opportunities to engage students and motivate curiosity. The project comes from the interests of the students. Children must work collaboratively, as their decisions influence the approach to the project and its outcomes. The arts enhance and support project based learning.
These early years are the most critical for fostering children’s natural ability to think divergently – an essential capacity for innovating. At Lucy School, children are fully engaging their imaginations and practicing creativity when they participate in extended free play – indoors and out. Young children, in particular, need extended play times daily. Lucy School teachers enhance creative thinking by providing a variety of open-ended play materials, such as assorted fabrics, large and small blocks, and non-representational props such as pine cones, tree branch "cookies," cardboard tubes, boxes, plastic piping, yarn, and plastic straws for example. DO TRY THIS AT HOME! Your child stretches her imagination “muscle” when she uses a pine cone into an apple or pretends to be a bird with "pine cone" eggs. Turning a paper towel tube into a spyglass, stethoscope, soup ladle, and then a flashlight is practice in divergent thinking!
You can learn more about 21st Century Learning and Innovation skills from the website: www.p21.org and in this interesting animation of “A New Paradigm for Education on youtube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zDZFcDGpL4U&feature=player_embedded by Sir Ken Robinson, a leading thinker on the development of creativity.
We also recommend the highly praised book on the subject: “A Whole New Mind: Why Right-Brainers will Rule the Future” by Daniel Pink.