Full STEAM ahead: Arts, STEM and 21st century learning

It’s autumn in the Rockies and a season for debate and confrontation. In nature, the bugle call of the male elk woos mates and incites challengers for control of the harem. In politics, President Barack Obama and challenger Mitt Romney return again and again to the West to assert their positions. Why fight it? This month, let’s take a look at the argument for adding an “A” to STEM to create STEAM and acknowledge the role of the arts in 21st century learning.

Students at "A+" Schools Outperform Others!

"A+" Schools in Oklahoma draw national attention, steady stream of observing teachers and administrators, with its emphasis on the arts, and strong evaluation focus. Here is an excerpt:

"In 2010, Oklahoma A+ Schools issued a five-volume re

Giving Thanks For Those Who Make Arts Education Possible

Amador County Arts Council Launches Advocacy Effort

 
Amador County is one of five local arts councils to join the Alliance’s Local Advocacy Network this fall. The program offers empowers local communities to keep arts programs in schools by providing the strategic assistance, leadership development and communication tools. The five local councils support from bring a wealth of experience and a strong commitment to this work. Each one hosts a breakfast event for community leaders to gather and unify local support for arts education. 
 
Jack Mitchell, Publisher of the Amador Ledger Dispatch was one of the hosts for launch event in Amador. His inspired remarks are included here. Thank you and welcome to all of our new allies! 

November newsletter is up!

The first of an on-going series of monthly e-newsletters is out!  Check it out here.

To receive the California Alliance for Arts Education's Santa Clara County e-newsletter, sign up herehttp://eepurl.com/rqyBD

Why Arts Education Is Crucial, and Who's Doing It Best

Art and music are key to student development.

Ballet dancers practicing in a studio
Credit: Getty Images

"Art does not solve problems, but makes us aware of their existence," sculptor Magdalena Abakanowicz has said. Arts education, on the other hand, does solve problems. Years of research show that it's closely linked to almost everything that we as a nation say we want for our children and demand from our schools: academic achievement, social and emotional development, civic engagement, and equitable opportunity.

Involvement in the arts is associated with gains in math, reading, cognitive ability, critical thinking, and verbal skill. Arts learning can also improve motivation, concentration, confidence, and teamwork. A 2005 report by the Rand Corporation about the visual arts argues that the intrinsic pleasures and stimulation of the art experience do more than sweeten an individual's life -- according to the report, they "can connect people more deeply to the world and open them to new ways of seeing," creating the foundation to forge social bonds and community cohesion. And strong arts programming in schools helps close a gap that has left many a child behind: From Mozart for babies to tutus for toddlers to family trips to the museum, the children of affluent, aspiring parents generally get exposed to the arts whether or not public schools provide them. Low-income children, often, do not. "Arts education enables those children from a financially challenged background to have a more level playing field with children who have had those enrichment experiences,'' says Eric Cooper, president and founder of the National Urban Alliance for Effective Education

For full text, go to  http://www.edutopia.org/arts-music-curriculum-child-development

School Board Candidates Answer Arts Survey

 

The California Alliance for Arts Education invited candidates to respond to four questions about policy and funding for arts education.

Student involvement in the arts is linked to lower dropout rates, higher test scores and fosters creativity and critical thinking that they need to success in a 21st century workplace. But, in recent years arts programs have been cut at an alarming rate. So before I vote, I want to know where the candidates running for school board stand on arts education.

Saved by the (Sax's) Bell by Daniel J. Levitin

I'm sharing this article that I found in the LA Times in March 2011, just after the launch of the Los Alamitos Alliance.  I saved the article because of it illustrates the importance of arts education and  because the author, Daniel J. Levitin, is both a research scientist and a musician. His uncommon combination of skills means that he's able to comment from both an artistic, qualitative view and from a scientific, quantitative view.  

Levitin's childhood experience is a very personal case for keeping arts in public schools.  He explains that music saved him from being beaten up by the school bullies, but that it also planted the seeds for his interest in neuroscience, specifically the effect of music on the brain. In his closing, he opines that the California public school system of his time "valued the arts as a way to instill social skills and curiosity.  I hope the next generation of public school kids gets the same opportunity the state of California gave me to discover things about themselves and the world through music."
Read the full article:

Candidate Surveys Make the Arts Matter in Elections

The Challenge: How does a well-known arts council reinvigorate its arts education messaging?

The Strategy: Seize moments of momentum like a statewide Candidate Survey Project in a big election year.

The Story: The Cultural Council of Santa Cruz County has a long history of support for arts education, beginning in 1980 when it launched the nationally recognized SPECTRA program (Special Teaching Resources in the Arts) in response to Proposition 13.

Today, according to a recent white paper by the Council, the community has “the local expertise and skills needed to make a major impact in this field, numerous case studies to draw upon, a supportive community of parents, teachers, school administrators and arts organizations and hundreds of teachers, artists, and administrators who have received quality professional development in arts education.” Yet, like so many communities, its arts education offerings are also dependent on the ebb and flow of financial resources.

WHERE DO YOU THINK @#$%& ARTISTS COME FROM?

 

Remarks from Ann Morhauser, CEO and Designer of Annieglass and one of the hosts of our local advocacy launch breakfast in Santa Cruz County.

Artists do not fall fully-formed from the sky ready to create the next Mona Lisa or your next smart phone, computer, gadget, cancer cure, bridge, car, sunscreen, seat belt, MRI, solar panel, wine, ATM… They need to be taught, trained, nurtured, given room, space and time to develop their own personal vocabulary to be able to interpret and communicate their vision.

Any invention requires more than engineering. Innovation requires imagination, the ability to construct and deconstruct unhindered, analysis, and creativity. Vital to any sort of artistic development is both the nerve to carry it out and the freedom to fail.

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