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Art to Heart

Arts and Learning

“The arts are the one arena where there are no right and wrong answers and where kids can really express themselves. The arts are where you put your own heart and soul into it.”

Ellen Winner, professor of psychology at Boston College and senior research associate at Project Zero, Harvard Graduate School of Education

“I do think that kids use drama naturally. I think it’s a part of play that they’ve been doing since they were young.”

Debby Horn, 3rd grade teacher, St. Agnes Elementary, Louisville

“The teacher’s role is to promote the modes of thought that make artistic activity possible. That’s what painters do and that’s what writers do. That’s what poets do. They think about their work. They make modifications to their work, they enhance it, they edit it. They make it stronger. That’s what we need teachers to be able to do. It’s not an easy job. It’s far easier teaching arithmetic. But how do you know when a painting is done or a poem is finished? You have to exercise that most exquisite of human capacities, the capacity to exercise judgment in the absence of rule. That’s the kind of attitude we want to promote, not just in the arts but in general in school. That’s the kind of attitude that brings about great science as well as great art.”

Elliot Eisner, professor of education, Stanford University

“I think what we often do is we talk about the arts as about kids. ‘We really need to do music with young kids. We really have to do creative dramatics.’ That is absolutely true, but I believe we really have to do all those things with teachers.”

Louise Pascale, professor of creative arts and learning, Lesley University

“Children are not just small adults. They have a fundamentally different brain. They process things differently because of the fact that this complicated organ inside our heads does not develop uniformly. The sensory and motor skills kick in first, and so very young children live in a very immediate world where they perceive things, they move, and they get feedback from those movements. Young children really live in the moment, and I think we accept that with babies. But it’s surprising how even with preschool-aged children sometimes people have unreal expectations about what their memory capacity is going to be or their ability to plan for not even just tomorrow, but to plan a project that has several parts to it. They really do need the guidance to look ahead because they don’t have that frontal lobe skill we call planning.”

Lise Eliot, associate professor of neuroscience, Rosalind Franklin University

“Art is a time to ask children. It’s a time to play with children. It’s really probably the only time in school when you ask the kids, you know, ‘Let’s sit down and make something without having a list of instructions, having to fill in sheets and sheets invented by someone else.’ Walk into any classroom in an elementary school and ask, ‘How many of you want to be artists?’ and 90% or more of the children will raise their hands. Kids love art; many of them come to school to have that one joyous period of the day. Do we care if kids are happy in school? Do we care if they’re in an environment doing things that they enjoy? Art brings joy, not only to a particular child, but to the classroom and the entire school.”

George Szekely, professor of art education, University of Kentucky

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