What the Arts Offer the English Classroom
I have been considering the benefit of the Pages program and how some of the things that I have learned might be applicable for other teachers not currently in the program.Т The following is a list of items I feel could be applicable to any English classroom.
1.Т Studying the artistтs process is valuable.Т Research is not just for persuasion or informational purposes; narrative writers and poets do research as well.Т Through the venues of creative writing, students can gain familiarity with the research process while at the same time experiencing intrapersonal growth, which is not as often explored in the traditional school setting.Т In addition, the process of metacognition and revision is inherent in the artistic process.Т These are needed twenty-first century skills sought after by employers.
2. Risk taking makes better writing.Т Any time students feel like the risk is higher, they are going to put more work into what they are doing.Т The risk of becoming or not becoming a published author is much higher than the risk of getting a B instead of a C and so is the reward.Т Students respond to the authenticity of this experience by engaging with the work they are creating on a deeper level.Т Be it a public reading, performance, paper or web publication, having a real audience matters.
3. Novel settings inspire engagement (and personal growth?).Т When students are asked to view art, see a film or really do anything outside of the traditional classroom, they become more excited about the task.Т In addition, in the same way that publishing seems like more тauthenticт learning than writing for a grade, an experience in a museum seems more authentic than one inside the classroom.Т Therefore, partnerships that encourage outreach to the community would likely boost studentsт achievement and engagement.
4.Т Modeling is key. The process of the artist should not just be studied; it needs to be mimicked.Т Going through the same processes of collaboration, revision, research and reflection that all artists go through teaches more writing skills; it teaches skills that are necessary to succeed in the post-secondary classroom and the work force.Т My husbandтs uncle had one of the top six science programs in the nation in a rural town of 400 people.Т He did this by having his students become scientists.Т Students need to become writers as well.
In todayтs climate, the English classroom is becoming more and more sterilized to meet the needs of testing and what we consider тhard skillsт like argument and research.Т At the same time, art programs continue to be cut in many districts because of budget concerns.Т In this context, programs like Pages are needed now more than ever.