The arts or the “core curriculum?”

First students learn IN the arts, then they can learn THROUGH the arts!

First students learn IN the arts, then they can learn THROUGH the arts!

First, this title contains a flawed question, because the arts ARE core curriculum as of ESEA. Music, art, dance and drama are ways of knowing, and are essential for our students to grow as whole human beings. For some of them, the arts will be a career. For many more, the arts will enrich their living, working, and participation in their community and society.

For those of us still working in a traditional school paradigm (most public schools and many charter, magnet and private schools), the answer is “both!” Most smart educators know that the arts are important to enrich the curriculum, and each of the arts provides a different delivery modality for content and skills. However, children can’t learn THROUGH a modality until they have skills IN that modality.

So start by teaching students the arts skills, then use them as a delivery system for other curricular content. The benefits are measured in happier students, deeper learning retained longer, and an engaging and motivating learning environment. Where do you start? Total Learning lessons and studios!

2 thoughts on “The arts or the “core curriculum?”

  1. This week my first graders are learning to differentiate between nouns and verbs. I try to incorporate some Total Learning activity/method in the more mundane grammar lessons to engage the students. Today while working on verbs we pantomimed actions. Students have learned that there are no mouth sounds in pantomime and through TL lessons have conquered sharing classroom space. We were able to pantomime and distinguish subtle differences between the following verbs: skip, jog, run, hop, jump, yell, swim, walk, ride, cry, eat, drink, and carry (just to name a few). An activity that would have otherwise been out of control was both kinesthetic and quiet and yielded awesome results. The students were actively engaged and attentive!
    Here’s the Common Core Standard we were working on:
    CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.L.1.5.D
    Distinguish shades of meaning among verbs differing in manner (e.g., look, peek, glance, stare, glare, scowl) and adjectives differing in intensity (e.g., large, gigantic) by defining or choosing them or by acting out the meanings.

    • Thanks, Candice. It’s amazing how much your first graders are learning about finer details. Your classroom sounds like a wonderful place for children to live and learn every day! Sue

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