Saturday, September 27, 2008

Why Teach Through the Arts? A Compelling Argument.

I came across this on Ms. Molina's Class Page in a post titled "Brainy Language Arts"and thought I'd share it with you. You can read the entire post, and it's well worth the time, by clicking on the title of this post.

"Why teach with the arts and the brain in mind? Eric Jensen, another pioneer in brain research states, " I support constructivism over mindless factual accumulation, and I favor depth over breadth of knowledge. I favor variety in education over one-size-fits-all." These statements leave little doubt in the reader's mind that Eric Jensen believes in the arts-not test scores alone...He makes it very clear that educators should appeal to the Multiple Intelligences, and that those intelligences lend themselves most efficiently to the arts. From his point of view, he is more concerned with developing thinking, balanced human beings, than developing automated computer-like individuals. His philosophies indicate a belief in the uniqueness of man...a uniqueness in thought and emotion that needs to be nurtured; he claims that it is especially important with the acceleration in technology. He further contends that learning through the arts is long term; knowledge that is memorized specifically for a test, on the other hand, lasts only a short time unless that content is transferred and applied. He points out that creating lessons that use higher modalities of thought give students long lasting skills and concepts. Activities or assessments that require a transfer of concepts take a long time to develop the synaptic functions, but when developed, provide fine motor skills, creativity, and emotional balance into adulthood. That is quite a claim, but one worth striving for....He supports this claim writing that the arts enhance learning because the systematic integration of the arts developed sensory, attentional, cognitive, emotional, and motor capabilities-all are necessary in the learning process. In other words, the arts develop the brain! As a bonus, the arts reach students who normally disengage from the traditional setting-integration of the arts allows students to discover, find their own level, and most of all, experience real world learning."

I put the last sentence in bold letters, because that is one of the most important parts of arts-based teaching--engaging all of those students who otherwise wouldn't be reached.

If you would like to read more of Eric Jensen's work, we recommend:
Jensen, E. (2001). Arts with the brain in mind. Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.

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