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Education can be rounded by the arts

Math, science and English are all essential to learning. But without

the arts, our children’s education is not complete.

That’s why it was heartening this week to learn that three Burbank

elementary schools sent their principals and four teachers to a

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five-day summer institute at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion.

The institute, sponsored in part by grants from the Music Center’s

Education Division, is designed to educate teachers and

administrators on how to create a curriculum to implement the arts

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into the classroom.

Emerson, Jefferson and Bret-Harte elementary schools are three of

12 schools that each received $5,000 grants to fund the workshops,

implement the curriculum and create teacher mentorships.

The workshops’ educators attended used the poetry of Langston

Hughes as a base to explore other areas of art such as dance, music,

visual arts and theater.

Teachers were already asking questions this week -- a good sign.

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What’s the meaning of a given poem? What art could be created to

reflect that theme? How could that be turned into a play? Could it be

transferred to the stage?

Those kind of questions and that kind of creativity can be

translated to children, who will be better students, and more

well-rounded people, because of it.

In the end, it’s not what the arts can do for math scores, it’s

what they can do for a child’s sense of humanity, their

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enlightenment. It will enrich lives and their view of the world.

According to the National Center for Education Statistics,

elementary and secondary schools have done little to promote arts

education through “teacher enhancement opportunities.”

But that’s precisely what these educators are doing: enhancing

themselves, to enhance the lives of the children they teach through a

partnership with artists.

The consequences will be significant, especially at a time of

fiscal belt-tightening, which often squeezes out the arts.

District officials are designing a sequential curriculum that

builds on education from grade to grade. Teachers will return from

these workshops to implement what they’ve learned, and a Music Center

Education Division will send a group to evaluate where the strengths

and weaknesses are in the classroom. Through working with the Music

Center program, a curriculum will eventually be created.

In this world we can’t all make a living with poetry and art. But

we certainly can be more in touch with the world and learn about it.

That’s worth the effort to convey in the classroom. And so is this

program.


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