“Give the pupils something to do, not something to learn; and the doing is of such a nature as to demand thinking; learning naturally results.” John Dewey
Today I attended a summit on the state of the arts in Vermont. The event, Envisioning Arts Education in Vermont, was hosted by Vermont College of Fine Arts in Montpelier and organized by the Vermont Arts Council.
|Photo via vtartsed.org|
You see, there is so much we already know. We know that the arts promote the 21st century skills we need students to have. These skills include critical thinking, working as a team, creative problem solving, analysis, planning, and experimentation. We know that the arts improve test scores. This has been shown through studies again and again since the 1980's.
|Secretary Rebecca Holcombe|
"Grit" is a newish trendy word in education, popularized by the TED talk of Angela Lee Duckworth. Frankly, I am glad it is getting attention. What I think grit looks like, really, is the ability for a child to say to themselves that risk-taking is okay, failure is fantastic, and the resulting knowledge gained will be more fully learned through work that is real.
Art puts in a child's hands the entire responsibility for doing, and therefore the responsibility, facilitated by the teacher, to learn, reflect, and distill new understandings.
As I talked about in this blog post from June, frustration, confusion, experimentation, and inquiry are welcomed in my room with open arms, because they are the best avenue to lead to both resilience and true understanding of content. Nothing makes you understand electricity like struggling to light up that LED and then finally succeeding, and nothing gets you to understand the process of making paper like forgetting to insert the screen and having your pulp fall into the water, only to have to begin again.
So come on in to my art room friends. Please, take some risks when I give you something to do, make some mistakes, and learn something new.