Blog Posts for march 2015 blog salon

Brains Under Construction: Supporting Students in the Arts

Posted by Barbara Weidlein, Mar 19, 2015 2 comments

The more I learn from the ongoing research on adolescent cognitive development, the more I realize the degree to which high school students are expected to make major decisions for which their brains are not quite ready. It’s no wonder that the college decision process, as well as the consideration of careers, is so overwhelming for many if not most 17- and 18-year-olds. I remember my son at that age: he couldn’t imagine going into any field other than music. Yet the plethora of choices and decisions without clear guidelines to facilitate the process proved to be highly confusing and enormously time-consuming for him. In fact, it became the inspiration for the creation of, in an effort to ease some of that angst for other students - and their parents.

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Arts Education and Cognitive Development: Compiling the Research

Posted by Mr. Jeff M. Poulin, Mar 16, 2015 4 comments

More and more, we at Americans for the Arts are talking about the transformative power of the arts, echoing the work that has happened at a local level in the arts across America for the past several decades. However, as I move more and more into the education space, I hear a call for the hard facts amongst the heart-warming stories. Education decision makers want to see results, they want to see change, and they want to draw a correlation between the two.

As a professional arts education advocate, I can keep up with most of these requests, but recently I found myself at a bit of a cross roads. I was in Los Angeles, speaking with a self-described ‘music education evangelist,’ who was telling me all about some research that had been conducted on the impact of arts education on the cognitive functions of the brain. Arts Education, he said, could work to close the opportunity gap faster than other – more conventional – tactics.

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New Reasons to Teach and Learn Through the Arts

Posted by Mariale Hardiman, Mar 16, 2015 4 comments

Do you still sing the alphabet when you need to recall the order of letters? Do you chant the poem “Thirty Days Hath September…” when trying to remember how many days there are in a month? Now think about your time in school. My guess is that, like me, you remember school plays, a catchy song when you studied a foreign language, or the content of a science or history lesson when you made a poster or diorama. Yet, how many of us remember the content of the tests or quizzes we took in school?

Most of us have had some experiences that support the idea that using art helps us to remember information better. We would also likely agree that as we progressed through our schooling, learning with and through the arts seemed to diminish, replaced with more traditional types of learning such as lectures and text-based inputs and outputs.

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All Writing Is Creative Writing

Posted by BJ Buckley, Mar 17, 2015 1 comment

What is thinking? Are there different modes of thought? How do we learn? Why do we respond so powerfully and intensely to the world’s beauty and to the beauty of things made by humans in response, to art in all its forms? What are the connections between our responses to paintings, music, dance, theater, poetry, and stories, our own impulses to make and create, and learning?

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Arts and Cultivating Imagination

Posted by Evan Sanderson, Mar 18, 2015 1 comment

My first role was as a knight. I was eight. The audience consisted of my friend, Steven, also playing a knight, and the various woodland creatures that inhabited the backyard of our house in suburban Maryland. You see, I had recently been to the Maryland Renaissance Festival, and like many young boys and girls my age, had fallen in love with the costumes, the swords, the accents, and the meat on a stick. And so, back at the castle (my house), I was determined to recreate the excitement, the vivacity, and the magic of the experience … if only in my head.

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Arts Education and Cognition: A Caution and a Path Forward

Posted by Peter Duffy, Mar 17, 2015 5 comments

When I talk with teachers around the country about arts education and cognition they all ask the same question, “What research can I show my principal to prove the benefit of arts education?” It is as if teachers seek a holy grail that will prove once and for all its significant value. Teachers want to verify art education’s impact to prevent its relegation to a merely fun or acculturating activity within schools. Their question is an important and, of course, complicated one.

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