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Art & Education

Elliot Eisner, art and education professor at Stanford Graduate School of Education, focused on the aesthetic intelligence and uses of critical methods from the arts to improve educational practice in his research.

Eisner shared that perhaps the most fundamental element to education one should consider is the manner in which we perceive and make sense of the world in which we live.

Classrooms that utilize arts as a way to develop the whole child through not only learning the content but using the arts as a catalyst to enhance learning are highly effective classrooms. Where creativity is encouraged and problem solving modeled and explored using hands on activities, it is more likely the playing field is leveled for all to be successful learners.

One of the highlights of Texas Independence Week is the annual Texas Parade at St. Cyprian’s School. The parade takes place after the study of Texas history for kindergarten and first grade students.

The Texas parade consists of each kindergarten student creating a parade float as part of a home to school project that is usually built around a radio flyer wagon to facilitate a parade presentation.

Each student is assigned a Texas landmark or natural resource to represent to families and friends in a parade around the gym with a description given in a rhyming verse to the audience.

This event also features first graders dressed in character who present a short biography of their assigned famous Texan and their best known accomplishments.

Not only should we teach with professional expertise the disciplines of music, dance, theater, and the visual arts to our children but also we should change the ways of teaching and learning math, science, history and other subjects to more closely resemble the way teaching and learning take place in the arts. This statement is found in the work of Edward Fiske, Ed.D. in The Impact of the Arts on Learning, Champions of Change.

The American Academy for the Arts tells us the arts are essential in classrooms everywhere because the arts teach students immeasurable lessons such as practice makes perfect, small differences can have large effects, collaboration leads to creativity. The arts also teach children that there are several paths to take when approaching problems and that all problems can have more than one solution.”

St. Cyprian’s Texas Parade showcases learning in our lower grades as the perfect example of what happens when arts are incorporated into the classroom curriculum. Experiences, movement, creativity and learning combine to reinforce knowledge in a way that strengthens the application, comprehension and knowledge levels of Benjamin Bloom’s famous taxonomy describing how we learn best.

Texas songs rang out from the group complete with hand motions and theatrics as they belted out “the stars at night” and in a choral poem described the tall pine trees and their love for their hometown ending with “We live in Lufkin, come see us y’all.” This is the perfect example of what happens when arts are incorporated into the classroom curriculum.

With the arts involved, learning truly becomes “big and bright” and “deep in the heart” as children are offered inclusion of content and creativity during the school day.

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