Friday, March 13, 2015

The Sound of Music and Paint.

It's opening night for The Sound of Music.   The spring musical season is in full swing in the county, as new shows and old favorites dot the map in the weekend section of the local paper, offering quality interpretations of Broadway shows for $10 a ticket -- or less!  Some of the shows in Lancaster County rival the quality of adult productions in local dinner theaters.  I might be a bit biased, but I've seen some shows that rivaled Broadway productions as well.

Which, of course, makes me so proud of what a bunch of kids, led by some caring adults, can do with the hours after school and before bedtime in the bleakest winter months.  It pains me when I hear kids who are truly passionate about the arts, who are also struggling students, who must choose between success in academics and participation in areas of true talent.  Of course, the almighty tests are driving the instruction, and the allocation of time for remediation, as we all see the "testing window" opening in early April, and closing sometime in mid-May.

The Sound of Music (and Paint) 

It's generally accepted that "extracurriculars" are supposed to be the above and beyond in the educational experience.  We hold athletes to standards, requiring that they be academically successful in order to be eligible to participate on the fields or courts.  The same is true of other extracurriculars are just that -- extra to the curriculum.  The weekly eligibility lists are published, requiring teachers to identify struggling students who might better spend their time after school on academics instead of their passions.  But to what end?

The cool thing about being in education is that for many teachers, there is still a sense of empowerment.  Teachers can choose to integrate the arts into their classrooms to support otherwise mundane lessons.  I've spoken before about the STD Christmas Carolers, which is certainly the most edgy of the musically integrated  lessons I've seen, and have infused some art into lessons myself this year as we studied da Vinci (easy transition!), and some of his mind-clearing zen-like lessons including the contemporary practice of zentangling.  

Creativity is in the mind of the beholder.  So now, as teachers, we must be holding it.  (Okay, bad pun, but you know what I mean.)  As the folks at Te@chthought so eloquently put it in a recent blog entry on Creativity and Empowerment "Creativity takes Courage."
 
The kids stepping into the bath of spotlights this weekend have seized the day, spreading their wings of courage and creativity. They will be celebrated and successful, and praised with candygrams, flowers, and shout outs on Twitter and Facebook.

How can we, as teachers empower kids, and be courageous in our creative approach to reaching kids through the arts?  And why aren't we working harder to figure it out?