Saturday, May 30, 2009

Learning by Doing

Okay, by now you're used to hearing this kind of thing coming from me, but this is from the Massachusetts Frameworks for education. I have highlighted the areas in color.

Learning By Doing

Students learn about the arts from the artist’s perspective by active participation — they learn by doing. They come to understand the specific ways in which dancers, composers, musicians, visual artists, or actors think, solve problems, and make aesthetic choices. Massachusetts schools should educate students to think like artists, just as they teach students to think like writers, historians, scientists, or mathematicians.

Learning in, about, and through the arts can lead to a profound sense of understanding, joy, and accomplishment. It is important that students learn to express and understand ideas that are communicated in sounds, images, and movements, as well as in written or spoken words. Sequential education in any of the arts disciplines emphasizes imaginative and reflective thought, and provides an introduction to the ways that human beings express insights in cultures throughout the world.

This is significant for those of us who are arts-based educators and need the language to communicate what we are doing in our classrooms to administrators, colleagues, parents, and others. It is important to become familiar with these frameworks, so that we can substantiate our practices when called upon to do so.

Here's some more from Pre-K to Grade four where the goal is to develop and sustain the natural curiosity, expressiveness, and creativity that very young children often display. Arts education begins with a foundation that emphasizes exploration, experimentation, engagement of the senses, and discussion as paths to understanding.

Young children use the arts to explore sensation and recreate their memory of real and imagined events. They are trying to find out all they can about the expressive qualities inherent in different forms of communication. Through what they choose to dramatize, sing, or paint, children let others know what is important, trivial, appealing, or frightening in their lives. Because arts experiences allow children to play with ideas and concepts, students often express freely in their artwork ideas and understandings that do not emerge in other classroom work. Versatile teachers encourage many forms of expression and learn how to appreciate the messages children transmit through their artworks.

Here are more ideas that back up integrating the arts across the curriculum and advocate for multiple forms of assessment and varied teaching strategies. Here the state, the same folks who standardize test our kids to the point of absurdity, is advocating for the arts and by extension, integrating the arts into the classroom. We all need to make sure we know this and can put language to it as we move forward.

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