Written by Jennifer M. DiBella, Director of Education at Roundabout Theatre Company
(This essay was adapted from an article originally featured in TCG’s Special Report on Education 2012: Arts Education at the Core (PDF). That report shares findings from the over 100 theatres that participated in the TCG Education Survey 2012, along with essays from leading theatre education directors on the impact of the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) on arts education, and CCSS resources from the past year.)
Created by state education leaders and governors from 48 states, the Common Core is the largest effort in the United States to develop a set of unified standards intended to equip students with the knowledge and skills required to succeed in college and careers. A popular refrain from Common Core advocates is “fewer, higher, deeper” — in essence the main shift from previous standards is to offer a reduced number of more rigorous standards. The Core has been met with mixed reactions from educators around the nation. Some are excited about the emphasis on deep critical thinking and others find the new mandates and benchmarks to be cumbersome and confusing. When it comes to the connection between Common Core and the arts, there is a lot to be explored.
By Barbara Hamilton, a perspective poem after completing Think 360 Arts for Learning’s Institute for Creative Teaching
10,000 hours of practice is what a famous man says will make ME an expert
At playing the viola, or at playing golf, or sculpting.
He says, razor sharp focus and meticulous planning will achieve my goals.
Now that would be 41.6 days if I never slept, ate, or saw my children or husband
If I worked at being an expert for just 5 hours a day, every day, that would be 2,000 days.
It’s also 285.7 weeks of practicing the viola or 5.5 years,
WITH NO DAYS OFF.
By Scott Romano
I have been involved in theatre and the arts so long that one of my oldest memories is losing my first tooth at a summer theatre camp, so let’s say four or five. Throughout my 18 years, I have seen how important the arts are, I have seen how they benefit me, my age group, and all students involved in these programs within public education. I have seen how paramount it is that we advocate for arts funding and fight to raise the priority level of arts in the mind of the public and our governments: from local school boards cutting arts programs, to the federal government nixing grant programs for arts endowment.
Individuals who lobby and support the arts, see that the fight for the arts is for the benefit of the public. We see arts education as a key element to being better, being more active members in our communities, and well-rounded people. We see the overwhelming benefits art programs bring to students and schools. We know individuals can work together to ensure policies and programs such as the Scientific and Cultural Facilities District are guaranteed to children and families.
Through my active 13 years in the arts community, I can speak to these values, these lessons that the arts share with students. I am the thriving person I am today because of the arts. The arts have taught me about myself. They gave me a platform to be myself. Being gay, I know the arts community as a home, a place where I know it is okay to be me. I have thrived because I know that my community of artists shares the belief of acceptance.
By Tami LoSasso
It’s a tired story. Funding in education is cut, channeled to nationally backed reform efforts, or school enrollment shrinks along with budgets for teachers and programs. We all know the reasons why the arts are the first to take a hit: they can’t be measured on a test, they’re too subjective, they’re not impacting learning in the core classroom, and too many are not skills based. While some of that may be true some of it is also blatantly false. For example, a 2016 report issued by Americans for the Arts stated,
“Data from The College Board show that in 2015, students who took four years of arts and music classes while in high school scored an average of 92 points higher on their SATs than students who took only one-half year or less.” (1)
Additional research with school age child development shows “a group of 162 children, ages 9-10, were trained to look closely at works of art and reason about what they saw. The results showed that children’s ability to draw inferences about artwork transferred to their reasoning about images in science.”(2)
By Jeremy Goldson
As artists, we are often put in a seemingly precarious position of needing to justify our life’s work, and its purpose. Artists often have to justify their profession in a way that neurosurgeons, for example, don’t. We never hear of neurosurgeons being asked to explain the massive expense of their equipment because it so clearly saves lives.
Of course, on the other hand, the national neurosurgery awards are not televised for the world to see, and, for better or worse, naval captains who perform acts of bravery do not capture the flashing gaze of the paparazzi.
But the point is that we, as artists, educators, aesthetes, and supporters feel forced to justify our artistic worldview and activity. And we often do so through the language of spending and revenue, through market capitalism and its brethren. There is nothing wrong with this, but it is not the most critical or powerful tool that we have.
By Julia Hegele
I have walked through the halls of my school for three years now and I’ve noticed two profound things.
The first, the debilitating mundanity that permeates the air and the second, the biting, defeated stares of students as they trudge from class to class. Papers rustle, pencils scratch, and then 50 minutes later, a droning bell tolls and students cascade back into the grey hallways. After years of observation and reflection, only one thing is on my mind as I watch the swells of students and teachers; Why on Earth must public education be so barren of joy, art, and creativity, and how can we resolve this egregious flaw in development that we have imposed upon our students?
By Sabrina Skiles
It’s always a good time to find new ways to boost your self-esteem. Whether it’s for you, your significant other, children, family, friends or your furry ones, we all need a little self-esteem love this time of year. Because like the old adage says “you can’t love someone else until you love and accept yourself.”
It has also been proven that art-related activities boost self-esteem. Who can say no to that? So here are a few art activities to give you that extra pep in your step this month.
By Stephen Gregg
I love theatre teachers.
There are obvious reasons. I love their enthusiasm as they do a really hard and really important job. I love that they’re invariably easy to talk to, and funny. But there’s a bigger reason that I love theatre teachers, and to explain it I’m going to talk about a play that I wrote a long time ago.
By Kristin Fong
The common saying, “A picture is worth a thousand words,” asserts that a simple image of an idea can more effectively describe it than the written word.
For many students, reading about history and memorizing facts and timelines isn’t enough to fully grasp the effect these events still have today. I have discovered through my 10 years of museum experience that research, literature, and primary sources really do go hand-in-hand with interpreting images. Speaking through the lens of the Western American art collection with which I work, I will share a few examples of historic paintings. Each painting has a unique story to tell, and each can really speak volumes about what has happened throughout history.