Lizard Brains & Other Learnings from the Preschool Classroom

Posted by Korbi Adams On March - 20 - 2013
Korbi Adams (r) with a friend.

Korbi Adams (r) with a friend.

My professional journey into early childhood education surprised me. Childsplay, the theatre for young audiences where I work, was invited to be a keynote experience at a local Head Start conference.

At this time, we were heavily focused on Drama Frames, an Arts Education Model Development and Dissemination grant program funded by the U.S. Department of Education, working with fourth through sixth grade teachers to integrate drama into writing. So we jumped into this preschool venture blind, and totally fell in love. We left the conference energized about preschool and drama. After a glimpse into the work of early childhood education (ECE), we wanted to stay.

Excited about new possibilities, we took our professional development model to The Helios Education Foundation and proposed that we revise this model for drama and literacy in the ECE classroom. They looked at us and said “no,” politely pointing out to us: “you know education, and you know drama, but you don’t know anything about preschool.” We had to agree.

What happened next changed the course of our project forever. Helios gave us an incredible opportunity. Instead of turning us down outright, they gave us a training grant. We suddenly had the luxury of 18 months to bring in experts, read books, ask questions, and observe the world of ECE!  Read the rest of this entry »

Common Core Architect Adds to Blog Salon Discussion

Posted by David Coleman On September - 17 - 2012

David Coleman

David Coleman, an architect of the Common Core State Standards and incoming president of The College Board, sent the following to Kristen Engebretsen in reaction to last week’s arts education blog salon on the common core:

I am so glad that the arts community has gotten the message that the arts have a central and essential role in achieving the finest aspects of the common core. So many of the blog posts are so thoughtful and imaginative about the possibilities. They were a delight to read.

Let me review a few critical points that many have already grasped:

1. Knowledge. Building knowledge through reading, writing, listening, and speaking is essential to literacy. As has been noted, the standards say explicitly that knowledge includes coherent knowledge about science, history, and the arts. So I hope the arts community is investing in finding remarkable high quality source material to learn about the arts. Remember that source texts should meet the text complexity requirements of the standards at each grade level and the selection of texts should be designed to build coherent knowledge within grades and across grades. There should be an influx of wonderful source materials to explore the arts. And now they can be shared across states and classrooms.

2. Observation. The arts have a great advantage in that they place a priority on the careful observation that reading requires. No one looks at a great work of art once; likewise, any great piece of writing deserves careful consideration and reconsideration. The arts can train students to look and look again; to listen and listen until one really hears. CS Lewis, himself a gifted author and reader of literature, writes this about looking at a painting or reading a book carefully: “We must look, and go on looking, until we have seen exactly what is there…the first demand any work of art makes on us is surrender. Look. Listen. Receive. Get yourself out of the way.” Henry James says the finest writer and reader is one “on whom nothing is lost.”

3. Evidence and Choices. A key idea of the standards is to base analysis of works of art and of writing in evidence. The standards require that analysis includes the ability to cite that evidence as the basis of understanding. Of course, we draw on sources of evidence outside of a text and a work of art, but the standards insist that students come to grips with evidence from the specific work of art or text they encounter.Part of what this kind of close attention includes is noticing and analyzing the choices artists make—choices such as what is the object of a painting, to how it is treated, to color, to light to all the choices that accumulate to make  a work of art. Good readers examine the choices writers make—their choice of specific words and broader choices—of how to order events and develop characters—of what to say—all these choices are examined by a careful reader. Read the rest of this entry »

How NEA Funding Affects Local Communities

Posted by Natalie Shoop On January - 23 - 2012

This year marks the 25th anniversary of National Arts Advocacy Day (AAD), the largest and most wide-ranging, one-day advocacy effort in support of the arts.

Advocates come from across the country come to Washington, DC, to meet with their members of Congress and staff members as part of the event. While the topics range from charitable giving incentives to cultural exchange, the keystone issue for many advocates remains support for the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA).

Here is what last year’s National Arts Advocacy Day Co-Chair Kerry Washington had to say about the importance of NEA funding (and other issues):

If that wasn’t enough, check out some of the stats that demonstrate the scope of the NEA’s impact:

  • Nearly 2,000 NEA awards have been made in communities in all 50 states.
  • 100 percent of Congressional districts will receive at least one grant, and 3,000 or more communities will participate in NEA-sponsored projects. These communities will benefit from these projects in ways such as touring and outreach.
  • Nearly 90 million individuals benefit from NEA programs, including 9 million children and young adults.
  • The NEA has awarded more than $4 billion to support artistic excellence, creativity, and innovation for the benefit of individuals and communities. Read the rest of this entry »

Unpicking the Equity Knot in Arts Education

Posted by Lynne Kingsley On May - 5 - 2011
Lynne Kingsley

Lynne Kingsley

If you were to untangle the unified, multi-layered rope that is arts education in public schools in this country, would you find equal amounts of art, music, theater, and dance strands?

Without thinking, most of us would say mildly, “well, not exactly.”

As a theater person, I realize this too, but it can’t be THAT unequal, right?

The Snapshot of Arts Education in Public Elementary and Secondary Schools: 2009-10 (a first look at top level national data from the upcoming FRSS study), published on Monday reveals a huge gap between the number of schools that offer art (83 percent) and music (94 percent) instruction and those that offer drama/theater (4 percent) and dance (3 percent) instruction at the elementary school level.  Read the rest of this entry »

Alec Baldwin and Nigel Lythgoe talk about the state of the arts in America at Arts Advocacy Day 2012. The acclaimed actor and famed producer discuss arts education and what inspires them.