Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Reinvesting in Success, What is the Problem?: Questioning the Relevance of Art in Education

The National Arts Educational Association (NAEA) cites “10 lessons the arts teach” ( Based in the teachings of Elliot Eisner (2002) these lessons give students possibilities of finding more than one solution to a problem as multiple perspectives allow problem solving techniques that can evolve and transform. The discourse of art is complex and demands technical focus of that based in the symbolic and the unspoken.  The capability to express feelings allows unique experiences of relationships that cannot be found in core curricula based only in common core standards.

Art defines culture and explains history. Recently, NPR reported that Spain’s Niemeyer Center for the Arts will close December 15th after nine months of operation ( It is a victim of the economy. Listener Joann Flora responded to the announcement by positing that in 1000 years the economy will not be what is remembered ( It is art that will survive and increase in economic value. Eisner (2002) reminds us that art is a cultural artifact and as such, is important to the fullness of a student’s learning experience. Art values are found everywhere and the outcome is technological and economic.

This past spring the President’s Committee on the Arts and Humanities published Reinvesting in Arts Education (May, 2011).  As the title clearly states, art is an investment that has “transformed the way we communicate, socialize, and do business.” Furthermore, “creative experiences are part of the daily work life of engineers, business managers, and hundreds of other professionals” (Arne Duncan, May, 2011).

I have difficulty in finding an argument omitting arts education from curricula other than NCLB made us do it.  Duncan (October 17th, 2011) declared that “Fixing No Child Left Behind (NCLB) is four years overdue” ( That same day the Secretary of Education proclaimed that “Our schools need to sustain arts and humanities programs where they are robust, and strengthen them where they are not” (

If “reinvesting” in the arts will help “fix” NCLB and allow students to succeed beyond schooling and become innovative contributors to economic productivity, why is there an argument as to its importance as a necessary part of the education of all children? I recommend visiting the November and December posts of Marilyn Stewart and Jo-Anne Kirkman in NAEA's "Monthly Mentor" blog as they dialogue both the realities and creative connections to art and culture (

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Take action

Arts is a necessary part of education for all students. Please take a moment to take the action necessary to get involved. When the arts become accessible as an advantage rather than a necessity, the outcome can never be an educational system where no child is left behind. Advocate for the Arts

Thursday, December 1, 2011

The link that follows this post is very important!!! When art is integrated into core curriculum, so many voices are heard. Throughout my elementary and secondary experiences as a classroom teacher, I taught students whose knowledge was suppressed as they continually failed due to fear of incorrect sentence structure, stupid or non-existent oral response answers, or the inability to understand the format of multiple choice possible answers. For many, the abstract, the aesthetic, the creative way of thinking needed to be allowed. For all, the artistic opened new possibilities.

As Elliot Eisner (2002) so eloquently reflected "what has been recognized - a lesson the arts teach - is that the coice of an approach to the study of the world is a choice of not only what one is able to say about the world, but also what one looks for  and is able to see. Methods define the frames though which we construe the world" (p. 215). So much of recent educational pedagogy is defined through the lens of  global success. Understanding that when standards of core accountability for some reason forgot to include the importance of the creative, aesthetic, and innovative as a means to enhance critcal iquiry and higher level thinking skills needs to be realized.

I agree with John Maeda when he states that "artists and designers,... are “'risk takers, they can think around corners.'” All students deserve the rush of succeeding.  When educators deny this rush because they are afraid of taking risks or don't understand how to turn corners, both teaching and learning opportunities are denied.