Transforming Ideas for Teaching and Learning The Arts - March 1997
A Major Asset of the Arts in Education Is to Make Schools a More
Engaging Learning Environment
"Wherever classroom teachers, arts resource teachers, and principals worked
unselfishly to change a school's learning atmosphere, change took place."
Arts IMPACT 49
"School documents state that, 'success is achieved by creating reasons and needs
for learning through the arts.' "
U.S. Department of Education 50
Americans have taxed themselves billions of dollars to construct large buildings in which their
children are to be educated. Yet, the environments in many of the schools lack liveliness and
charm. Pestalozzi in Switzerland and Bronson Alcott in Massachusetts understood the importance
of making their schools enjoyable places to be. We practice this in our kindergartens, but once
children are full-fledged students we tend to revert to no-nonsense, lackluster establishments.
Interesting, colorful schools improve attendance, not only of the pupils but of the teachers as
well. Parents form different impressions of the institution and may become more involved.
At Roosevelt Middle School for the Arts in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, the hallways were
decorated--not with graffiti and vandalism--but with displays of artwork by students. Students
directed the attention of teachers, parents, and visitors to their sculpture or their own section of
art on the wall, thus demonstrating a broad ownership of the school building and program. 51
Aiken Elementary School in South Carolina used the arts to change the spirit of the place. The
school moved from among the lowest in academic performance to a position in the upper 1
percent in the State. 52
[Enriching the Experiences of All Children as They
Study Literature, History, Geography, Foreign Languages, Math, or Science is a Gift Arts
Specialists Offer the School]