From: Nan Williams
Learning in and through the arts clearly transcends academic excellence, yet there is a higher purpose. For me personally, arts and education experiences have taught me about empathy, trust, infinity of ideas, expectation, stamina, efficiency, enriching the curriculum, and the powerful “uses of adversity” that Shakespeare mentioned. Some observations about student learning in the arts:
• The arts reach and motivate all types of students in all subjects.
• The arts focus on activities that are constructive, uplifting, and motivating in school.
• Working in the arts requires active and conscious use of all learning: academic skills, knowledge of history, culture, informed reasoning, problem solving, and so much more.
• The arts embrace multiple points of view and solutions.
Personal Growth and Creative Thinking
• Independent thinking disciplined ability to observe, reflect, adjust, and strive for perfection.
• The joy of exploration, discovery, and exhilaration of achievement in mastering something that’s difficult.
• Commitment, self-discipline, persistence, courage (i.e., diligent practice, embracing a range of judgment, as in exhibitions and auditions experiences).
• Persistence in face of “failure” - weeding out what doesn’t work.
• Trusting that answers will develop and take form. (So much in education works toward a quick, rigid, and final answer to a problem. Kids often say, “I messed up,” and then don’t have the skills to figure out what needs changing.)
• Using flexibility and patience to deal with the unexpected. Eisner calls it “willingness to surrender to the unanticipated possibilities of the work as it unfolds.” What a great life skill!
• Appreciation for good craftsmanship and skill, pride in personal achievement through hard work, and self-evaluation.
• Practice in using the tools of creativity: discipline, persistence, trust in the infinity of ideas, the value of change and adjustment, finely tuned senses.
• Empathy, understanding others, teamwork as in performance and group experiences.
• Communication of ideas in non-verbal, as well as verbal form.
• Seeing the value in many different solutions and points of view.
• Respect for our world’s historical and cultural achievements.
• Awareness of cultural and historical diversity, the look and feel and sound.
• Personal, creative, and joyful engagement with music, visual art, dance, and theatre that creates informed citizens who are equipped to support the arts.
• Development of discriminating judgment that has application beyond visual and performing arts analysis.
• Preparation of students so that they can function and thrive in today’s arts-bombarded world, with full understanding of the power of the arts.
Happy journey ahead! Remember that NAEA and your state organizations are powerful allies.
Copyright © 2015 Nan Williams