Quickly Making a Difference in Early Childhood Arts Education

Posted by Ron Jones, Mar 20, 2013 6 comments

Ron Jones Ron Jones

There seems to be an unstated assumption that any change in how the arts are utilized in early childhood education requires that the focus be on influencing and shaping the pedagogy of the teachers who currently work directly with this age group. That seems like a practical strategy, but we all know how challenging it is to initiate change.

I would submit that there is another avenue, a quicker and more effective path for accomplishing our goals with early childhood.

This avenue is at least as powerful as any other strategy advocated and, at its best, may be the most efficient way to implement beneficial change—positioning the arts as central to and essential for early childhood education.

I would argue that it is easier and faster to shape the philosophy and ensure a new approach to pedagogy when the focus is education majors within our colleges and universities.

The resistance to change evidenced in many experienced educators, be they teachers or principals, makes it difficult for me to believe that we can witness significant influence over what happens; rather, or at least at the same time, we must marshal the energy, enthusiasm, and commitment of soon-to-be teachers. Harnessing that energy will yield positive results in just a few short years. We must create a transition that permeates every classroom, that impacts every student, and that is advanced by every educator. 

Students preparing to teach are receptive and eager to receive both philosophical as well as practical mentoring. They have not adopted behaviors and perspectives that are resistant to challenge and change.

Education majors are eager, receptive, enthusiastic, idealistic, and anxious to make their mark, make a difference, and give uncompromisingly to their future students. Being totally pragmatic, we must act on and harness that receptivity and energy.

At first blush this might not seem to be anything more than the obvious but it is my observation that the field of education seldom recognizes the speed with which change can be implemented if we prepare teachers who one year later are implementing what they have learned.

Currently the “survival” rate for teachers is so short that any strategy other than focusing on pre-professional will, in all probability, be short lived and, more disappointingly, be initiated effectively by only a few.

For us to succeed we must transform and transformation is always easier if resistance is not where the transformation begins.

Helping pre-professional students to embrace the values of arts education and then supplying them with guidance and mentoring and tools will serve our goals well, moving arts education along more rapidly and making its value in education more apparent.

6 responses for Quickly Making a Difference in Early Childhood Arts Education


March 21, 2013 at 4:54 pm

It's a great idea- how do we raise the stakes for teachers or those who make decisions on how they are to be trained? How to we make this essential?

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March 22, 2013 at 9:46 am

Kaya and, in fact, all who are reading these.... your question is right on point. In fact, I am surprised that no one to date has challenged my assumption that colleges of education and their professors are capable of preparing future teachers to be change agents. My sense is that they are just as entrenched, conservative, and insensitive to the values of the arts in a child's education. If that is not true then why does the curriculum for a degree in elementary education have so little arts when that is an area in which most pre-service teachers are deficient? As I re-read my blog I realized that the utopia which we all envision relies of realities that only in the most unique of settings will yield success as we would define it.

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Bridget says
March 20, 2013 at 8:42 pm

I couldn't agree more. So many of the preschool teachers I have worked with were themselves deprived of the arts and consider themselves non-artists. When I offer professional development to experienced teachers, we spend most of the time UN-doing habits of thought. It's frustrating for everyone - I've heard directly from teachers, "why didn't I get any of this when I was in school?" Good question, I say.

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March 20, 2013 at 12:55 pm

Not really...at least that was not my intent. I do think it is the quickest way to realize change. thank you for drawing attention to what others might also assume.


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March 20, 2013 at 12:51 pm

I totally agree and I should have added a line that made that abundantly clear. Thanks for pointing it out.

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March 20, 2013 at 10:50 am

Ron, I completely agree, the more tools we can give teachers for their toolbox the more likely they will survive their first few years, and if that tool is the arts- then we all win. I dream of the day when the arts are part of pre-service training and maybe that day is closer than I thought! But I do believe that this pre-service approach needs to be coupled with continued learning once teachers are in the classroom. Nothing is more truthful than a room of 3 year olds, and continued learning and support will help sustain the practices of the arts as a tool in a teacher's toolbox far into their career.

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