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Arts Education Matters

In a recent series of visits to schools and after school programs, I had the chance to remember why this work matters.  In many classrooms, no activity lasted more than three minutes.  Classes opened with short “do-nows,” followed by mini-lessons, then practice, then small groups, then reading journals, then assignment notebooks.  Children and adults knew and moved through their routines – with Buzby Berkeley-like precision.  No one loitered.  No one faltered.  There were no “side conversations” allowed.  Then in one primary classroom, a teacher opened and read a beautifully illustrated book.  Everyone – adult and children alike – spent time “just” inspecting the pictures.  Slowly, they shared what they each noticed, producing a lattice of possibilities.  Children remembered, connected, and re-visited earlier stories they had read together.  For an entire half an hour, something developed, grew more complex, acquired meaning – and hung there to be admired.


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