Activities and Discussion
Making a Case for the Arts (20 minutes)
Facilitator: Lead a mock debate about the importance of the arts.
Realizing the power and promise of arts education is a first step toward
changing instructional practice and finding a new role for the arts in
To begin your mock debate, divide into two groups. Give everyone an
index card with a role teacher, principal, parent, or student
to assume while debating. In each group, there should be at least one
person playing each of the four roles.
In the debate, one group will make the case for an arts-rich curriculum
in every classroom. The other group will counter with arguments against
arts education. The debate may begin with stereotypical claims and put-downs,
but it should work toward deeper discussion of real issues. Begin the
debate with these questions:
- Do you consider the arts to be extraneous to traditional curriculum
at best merely an enrichment?
- Should the arts be an essential part of the core academic curriculum?
- What makes a subject academic?
When everyone has spoken, end the debate. Come out of character and
talk about any points that did not have a counterargument. Is the case
stronger for or against the arts?
Preparing to Build on New Ideas (25 minutes)
Facilitator: Lead a discussion envisioning the expanded role the
arts can play in your school. Consider several comparisons, such as:
- How is a classroom like a blank canvas or an empty stage?
- How are the arts like a magnifying glass, bringing out details and
deepening understanding in all subject areas?
- How can the arts be used as a glue to hold together many parts of
Divide into pairs, each pair collaboratively creating a work of art
such as a drawing, sculpture, poem, song, dance, and/or scene
that communicates your vision of the arts in your classroom. Combine two
or more art forms if possible.
Reassemble as one group and share your works of art, pointing out and
discussing similarities and differences.
Begin laying the foundation for your shared vision of the arts in every
classroom by discussing these questions:
- What changes in curriculum content and instructional practice will
need to be made?
- What assistance will you need from administrators, fellow teachers,
and others outside the school?
- What expertise do various teachers have, and how can you employ this
expertise in team-teaching situations?
- What additional knowledge and skills do you and other teachers need
to make arts instruction meaningful and effective?
Reflection (5 minutes)
Facilitator: Use the following observations and question to focus
a closing discussion:
- Artists look at things in different ways, experimenting with various
approaches and changing patterns.
- Professional educators engage in a similar process, continually assessing
and improving their curriculum and instructional practice.
- What are you going to do next as you work to bring an arts-rich curriculum
into your classroom?