Archive for September, 2011
To celebrate National Arts in Education Week, a.r.t. is inviting all a.r.t.-ists to create our next slogan / tagline. All submissions need to be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org by midnight Sunday, September 18, 2011.
The winning slogan will be featured on future a.r.t. swag (stickers, magnets, etc)! In addition, he/she will receive an Alterra Coffee gift pack and two admission tickets to the Milwaukee Art Museum.
The runner up will receive a $25 FRED Boutique gift card.
a.r.t. to bring together artists of all kinds to raise awareness for the importance of arts education in our schools.
a.r.t. to share & promote arts advocacy information from the local, state, and national levels with fellow artists, educators, and friends of the arts.
a.r.t. to expose students to the arts by helping fund local arts programs & educational organizations.
*Disclaimer: All submissions shall become property of a.r.t. (artists. rallying. together.) and all rights shall be reserved by a.r.t. to be used at its discretion.
The above quote is from Rubin’s popular New York Times Bestseller book The Happiness Project. Touchy feely types (as artists, it is part of our DNA) will connect to it and left brainers will appreciate the research included. The book could provide material for ten blogs, but let us focus on the quote.
With the start of a new school year, educators are meeting a brand new group of students for the first time. It is easy (and I write this as a former classroom teacher in a warm and loving way) to be blinded by the to do lists and meetings and new procedures and…. it can be overwhelming. But that is what dedicated teachers do. They keep their eye on the lists.
Rubin provides an important reminder that can be used in education. Each student brings to his/her classroom his or her own life story. And these life stories sometimes get bulldozed off to the side by state standards and district’s expectations. Although grabbing some art supplies and having a poetry session or share circle is not what is on other’s agendas, it just may be the exact thing that is needed to build relationships in a classroom and bond students as part of a new learning community.
Clearly, I remember the Center for Peaceable Schools Summer Institute I attended at Lesley University in Boston. Yes, because it was a memorable experience filled with amazing and motivating individuals who worked with at-risk youth. But it was the summer of 2005 and a crystal clear memory because we showed up one morning to news of the London bombings. Our work suddenly had so much more purpose.
If there was one item that the presenters wanted us to take away from that week, it was that building relationships within a school community was key to peace keeping and narrowing the achievement gap. Teacher-student relationships, student -student relationships, and teacher-teacher relationships were the backbone of a successful school climate. (Back to the quote above, sometimes teachers need to cut other teachers some slack.)
What better way to build those relationships than through the arts? The excuses of ‘no time’ have no room when it comes to the well being of ‘our kids.’ It is disheartening that those at the top who are telling educators to be on yada yada page on this day at this time are not thinking of what is truly best for children. Students sometimes sadly bring to school hunger, abuse, violence and/or neglect. The arts can help them share those struggles and the feelings attached to them when words get in the way. The arts help them make sense of their world. And to weave academics through the arts with reading, writing, speaking, etc. happens automatically with the arts.
Look at us as adults. How many times has music helped heal our broken hearts? Or writing poetry made sense of an emotional experience? Remember the play that brought you to tears? Or the movie that pulled at your heartstrings? Our little ones need to feel they are listened to and appreciated; that they belong to something. That is the power of community-like classrooms. And if they don’t have their life needs met, how can they learn the math concept on page 15 next Tuesday at 1:00pm?
Dance and love,
Christina M. Ratatori, a.r.t. founding director