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
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
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.
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
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