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February 1, 2013
Vol. 70
No. 5

Double Take

Research Alert

State of the Arts

A recent report from the National Center for Education Statistics found that close to 90 percent of public elementary and secondary schools in the United States offer music and visual arts instruction and that a majority of elementary students receive this instruction at least once a week from a certified art or music teacher. That's the good news.
But there's sobering news as well. The report, which looked at access to arts education in U.S. public schools, also found that, except for music instruction in secondary school, arts instruction has declined across the board.
  • Six percent of public elementary schools (serving 1.3 million students) don't offer music, and 17 percent (serving nearly 4 million students) don't offer visual arts.
  • Nine percent of public secondary schools (serving 800,000 students) don't offer music, and 11 percent (serving 1.4 million students) don't offer visual arts.
  • Ninety-seven percent of public elementary schools (serving 23 million students) don't offer any instruction in dance or theater, 88 percent of public secondary schools (serving 18 million students) don't offer dance, and about 55 percent of public secondary schools (serving 9 million students) don't offer theater.
One particularly troubling finding is equity-related: Schools with the highest percentages of students who are eligible for free or reduced-price lunch are far less likely to provide their students with access to arts education.
The report, Arts Education in Public Elementary and Secondary Schools: 1999–2000 and 2009–10, is available.

World Spin

Seeing the Light

In Brazil, Lumiar schools are doing some pretty innovative things. Created for students ages 4–14 and focused on project-based learning, the three Lumiar schools have no teachers as such, only mentors and masters: Full-time mentors help students discover their interests, and part-time masters come to the school as subject-matter experts. Lumiar schools have specific learning expectations for students, an approach that sets them apart from progressive schools like Summerhill, in which students have free rein over what and how—or even whether—they learn.
Lumiar was founded in 2003 by Ricardo Semler, who took the radical step of handing his family business over to its employees, allowing them to set their own wages and working hours—a move that proved highly profitable to his business. In the same vein, giving kids freedom to learn, Semler has noted, makes for a better education.

Relevant Reads

<EMPH TYPE="3">inGenius: A Crash Course on Creativity by Tina Seelig (HarperOne, 2012)
As executive director of the Stanford Technology Ventures Program, Tina Seelig has taught Stanford University students and business leaders from around the world. Using examples from her Stanford course, Seelig offers a model for creativity that she calls the Innovation Engine, which describes how creativity is generated on the inside through knowledge, imagination, and attitude and how it is influenced by the outside world through resources, habitats, and culture.
"Successful innovations result from trying lots of approaches to solving a particular problem and keeping what works. This necessarily results in a large number of unexpected outcomes and discarded ideas. If you aren't throwing away a large percentage of your ideas, then you aren't trying enough options." (p. 154)

Online Only

Tech-Enhanced Creativity

For a wealth of creative lessons that use technology, check out the Innovative Projects and Lessons area under the Tools for Teachers tab at EdTech Teacher. You'll find creative activities and assignments that teachers are using in all disciplines to foster student creativity in writing, art, music, and multimedia as well as intriguing online projects that students themselves have created.
For instance, for the "Day in the Life of a Hobo" podcast, students researched homelessness among teenagers in the Great Depression and then fashioned their own "day in the life" story of one such teen and made a 1930s-style radio show.
Click on Presentation and Multimedia under Tools for Teachers for tutorials, work samples, and suggestions on how to use multimedia innovatively in the classroom—from engaging in digital storytelling to creating virtual tours using VoiceThread.

Numbers of Note

95 The percentage of European teachers surveyed who believe that creativity is a fundamental skill that should be developed in school.
50 The percentage of European teachers surveyed who believe that creativity can be assessed.
Source: Cachia, R., &amp; Ferrari, A. (2010). Creativity in schools: A survey of teachers in Europe. Luxembourg: Publications Office of the European Union. Findings are based on the responses of 7,650 public school teachers from 27 European countries.


The arts—merely a special "sauce" for learning? Thirty thousand years of the arts' centrality to human learning reduced to a condiment!
—Eric Booth, p. 22

This article was published anonymously, or the author name was removed in the process of digital storage.

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