Archives for November 2015

Are We Really Teaching Students to be Creative When We Teach the Arts in Schools?

Kinhaven 2014-683I believe we are sitting on the precipice of whole school reform in our country.

Standardized testing has hit a tipping point; schools are still far behind when it comes to teaching critical twenty-first century skills; and there is a growing divide between the haves and have-nots that threatens to alter our society in ways we are not equipped to handle.

But if our school system is dismantled tomorrow and built from scratch, would the answer to our educational problems be to provide more arts instruction?  Is teaching our children to think creatively as simple as adding the arts into school curricula?

The arts as a core part of every school day is a large piece of our educational solution if it is taught with careful planning and purpose.  Teaching creativity means allowing students to put their imaginations to work and apply it into other activities. We now understand that creativity is not only reserved for a chosen few —  there aren’t only “special” people who are creative — all children are.  And we have a responsibility to celebrate and cultivate that creativity throughout our children’s K-12 education, if not beyond.

Here are some reasons teaching in and through the arts promotes creativity (as long as it is taught well):

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Why Music Isn’t Just for “Smart” Kids

IMG_7254-2This is a guest post from Leanne Sowul.  Leanne is a music teacher and writer from the Hudson Valley, NY.  You can find more of her writing at Words From The Sowul.

For the past thirteen years, I’ve worked in a public school district nationally recognized for music achievement, where over 85% of students sign up for an instrument starting in fourth grade. As an elementary band teacher, I get to be there for all of the beginnings: the first time new band students put their instruments together; the first time they produce a sound; their very first band rehearsal. Growth happens fast and motivation is high. Yet despite the excitement, constant learning, and small victories, I feel uneasy.

I worry because I know within the next year or two, some of those students will quit playing their instruments. And in a majority of cases, it will be for reasons having nothing to do with motivation or desire. That majority of kids will have one thing in common: they struggle in school. They are the kids with low scores on state tests; the kids who have IEPs (individualized education plans); the kids who are pulled out of class not only for music lessons, but for speech therapy and reading help.

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