Education, Waldorf

Could playing be the center of early childhood education ?

Why should we let children play most of the times ? Does playing will affect my child’s academic success ? These are answers that you could find below.

This follow my previous article about early child brain development : Waldorf Education from a Neuroscientific Perspective. I advise you to read this past article first. It will help you understand the thoughts below better.

I hand over the speaking to the neuroscientist Dr.Melrose (her website) :

“You now know that the brain develops in a hierarchical fashion from more to less primitive, from the animal to more uniquely human. What that means is that the healthy development of the more sophisticated neocortex DEPENDS upon the healthy development of the feeling, limbic brain which DEPENDS upon the healthy development of the sensory brain. The problem with today’s mainstream educational models is that they want the brain to walk before it can crawl. Well, let’s be accurate: Most school systems today want children to RUN before they can crawl. We encounter proud parents who say, “My child was walking at 9 months! She didn’t even need to crawl, just up and went! Isn’t that terrific?” And what I want to say is, “No! No, that’s not terrific! Push her to the floor! Make her crawl!” That might be an overzealous reaction, but it is grounded in sound knowledge that every single stage of development is essential to the next, laying a neural foundation to support what is to come. Our children need ample time and practice to “marinate in their mastery,” of one skill or another, at each and every juncture of their development. This is not happening in enough schools across the country today, but it is happening at Waldorf.evolution-296584_1280

Numerous studies have shown that play at every stage of development improves IQ, social-emotional functioning, learning, and academic performance. The findings of several studies conducted over a 4 year period found that spending one-third of the school day in physical education, art, and music improved not only physical fitness, but attitudes toward learning, and test scores, according to Dr. Elkind. Furthermore, when the performance of children who attended academic pre-schools was compared to the performance of children who attended play-oriented preschools, the results showed no advantage in reading and math achievement for the “academic children,” but did show that they had higher levels of test anxiety, were less creative, and had more negative attitudes toward school than did the “play children.”water-fight-442257_1280

Steiner knew that play is the invaluable foundation for any kind of healthy, human growth, including academic progress. And let’s be clear about what kind of play this is. It is what Dr. David Elkind calls “the purest form of play: the unstructured, [spontaneous], self-motivated, imaginative, independent kind, where children initiate their own games and even invent their own rules.” This kind of play, he warns us, is disappearing from our homes, schools, and neighborhoods at an alarming rate with great cost to the health, well-being, and achievement of our children.child-1864718_640

This is precisely the point we are missing in today’s achievement-driven culture. We have bought into a myth in education that “more equals more.” A formula of more time spent on academics, starting earlier in development, with more homework, is not increasing the output of our children. It’s decreasing it! Cutting time out for the arts, physical activity, and time in nature, so our children can spend more time reading, writing, and doing arithmetic is not the answer. It is the culprit. Our children are burning out and dropping out at catastrophic rates not just because more doesn’t equal more, but also because it equals shut-down.”

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We saw that playing increases social-emotional functioning, learning capabilities but also improves IQ and academic performances. Shouldn’t we let our children play for their own good ? Next time that your neighbors complain that your child plays too much and that you are an irresponsible parent, tell them that in fact you really care about your child education.

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Do you think playing has limits ? Your viewpoints are importante for me, tell me in the comment below.

Next week I will the second foci of Waldorf Education : The Nature.

If you want to know about playing through art : Educational Art

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Art, Art and education, creativity, Education

Painting time

We all experienced once,  painting with children: quickly the table, the walls, bodies and faces turn into masterpiece… If you follow my blog you should know that I would tell you that to forbid is not the correct answer. However there is limit, and it’s good that your child know when he/she reaches it. So what can we do for this (never) happen ? face-807496_1280

I summarize here the main tricks as my view, for your painting session becomes a peaceful creative moment to share with your child :

  • Protect everything, yes everything : It sounds obvious but to many times we think that these is out of reach, or this will never happen. We agree that put a plastic film on furnitures it’s easier then cleaning them. Put on apron and a helmet if needed. I think you understand, spend few more minutes to prepare is better then few hours of cleaning.

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  • Use a bigger paper sheet : sometimes children just need more space to express their art. About paper, you should make it all wet before painting, try and see the difference.
  • Use your biggest brush, or a sponge : little ones must have a big thing to paint, we forget it but fingers are the best brushes and they are free. So don’t feel bad if you only have tiny brushes for your 3 years old, you can both use your personal brushes.

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  • Co-operation : painting, and this value for each (art) activity, must be a ritual with your child(ren). I mean that they should help you to prepare and clean as much as they can. The activity must be prepared in a way that children can be a part of the whole process. They are the one who prepare, paint and clean. You will be surprised how much fun they can have to clean a board and wash brushes. Of course it will be harder if you never let your child help you for any task but it can be the first of a great lineage, let’s be optimistic! I give you one magic ingredient cause I know how hard it can be at the beginning : make it new. I mean that the activity should be in a new room or place. Bring a table outside, if the weather allows you, or meet friends to their place can be your magic ingredient. Find a way to bring change, you will be surprise of the result.

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  • Mathematician and Dreamer : there are children who feel more comfortable drawing then painting, it’s absolutely normal. In general Drawers are the ones who will prefer doing math or geometry. In general Painters are the ones who will prefer poetry or history. I could write a book about it. To sum up, they are right or left brain dominante. What we can do to help children balance this tendency is to : draw more then painting for a Dreamer, fix goals even if you don’t achieve it, make activity step by step. Paint more then draw for a Mathematician, make things big and colorful, playing must be in the center of the activity. Believe me, your child, even if he/she doesn’t know it, will reward you their whole life.family-557100_1280

Now that you know how to give the freedom your child needs to explore and express his/her creative potential… Brush, ready.. go!

I will be glad to hear how you experienced painting with your child(ren), let me know in the comment so I can help you if I can. If you have request for a next article, tell me, it’s our blog and I do my best to help you.

In the next tutorial you will know how to make homemade clay.

If you want to know more about creativity benefits I give you the link to my article about it : Creativity benefits

I you want to know more about : Educational Art

 

Art and education, Education, Waldorf

Waldorf Education from a Neuroscientific Perspective

Since few years Neuroscience has been vulgarize, lightening many field, and especially everything that touch well being of children. But what does Neuroscience says about Waldorf Pedagogy?

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Let me introduce you Dr.Melrose: Dr. Regalena “Reggie” Melrose is a licensed clinical and credentialed school psychologist with nearly 20 years experience working with children and adolescents in schools, clinical settings, and private practice. She is the author of several books including, “You Can Heal Your Child: A Guide for Parents of Misdiagnosed, Stressed, Traumatized, and Otherwise Misunderstood Children,” and the groundbreaking, “Why Students Underachieve: What Educators and Parents Can Do about It.” Dr. Melrose is an international speaker on the effects of stress and trauma on the brain, learning, and behavior and maintains a private practice healing the effects of stress and trauma in children, adolescents, and adults, in Long Beach, CA. Her Website.

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These purpose was shared during a lecture gave by Dr.Melrose. The topic was on brain development and, specifically, how cutting-edge neuroscience supports Waldorf theories.

Why Waldorf works has more to do with how the brain develops and functions optimally than Rudolf Steiner ever could have known. Sure the educator and founder of Waldorf Education theorized convincingly about how children learn best, but until MRIs and other sophisticated measures of the brain were developed, we had no way to prove or disprove any of Steiner’s theories, not with the kind of precision and accuracy we can now. An overwhelming body of evidence from the last 20 years of neuroscientific inquiry supports Steiner’s theories, including some of the most fundamental foci of Waldorf Education.

Three foci thrill me the most, both as a parent of a Waldorf student and as an international speaker on the topic of learning, behavior, and the brain: holism, play, and nature. An emphasis on all three is consistent with how the brain learns best: when the whole brain is engaged at any given moment, when its foundational neural connections have been given ample time to develop, and when it is in an optimally aroused state.Knowing how the brain develops is essential to understanding why these three foci are so important to the success of any educational program. Let us first learn some basic fundamentals of the brain. First of all, it is “triune,” that is, it has three parts. More importantly, not all three parts are fully developed at birth as we once believed. In fact, very little of a newborn’s brain is “online” and “ready to go.” When the brains of newborn babies are observed with an MRI, the only part of the brain that is lit up or active is the most primal part – the brain stem, sensing brain, or “animal brain,” as it is also called. (Small underdeveloped parts of the auditory and visual cortices are the only exceptions.) This primal part of the brain is responsible for our experience of arousal and stress. It kicks into high gear and mediates our fight or flight response when needed. I like to call it the “sensory brain” because it only speaks the language of sensations, the only language that most consistently enables our survival. When we encounter a bear in the woods, for example, our words will not save us, but our heightened senses do.

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The second and third parts of our brain – the limbic, feeling brain and the neocortex or thinking brain, respectively – only begin to develop after birth. This is critical new knowledge that provides a compelling answer to the long, highly debated question of nature versus nurture. We now know that because we only have use of a very small part of our brain at birth, the brain is literally sculpted by the experiences we have interacting with others in the environment. It is not until 3 to 4 months of age, when the feeling brain has become activated by experience that newborns are able to express more than just states of distress or contentment, as it does with only the sensory brain. At this somewhat older age, babies can share a wide range of emotions, thereby giving us a more social baby.

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Steiner’s approach to education was a holistic one. He recognized that our senses, feelings, and cognitions must all be actively engaged at each stage of development in order for students to maintain, over the long term, a joy and love of learning. Waldorf educators do not make the same mistake made by a number of other more traditional, conventional, and mainstream models of education. Waldorf educators do not overvalue the development of the neocortex and left brain to the exclusion of the right brain, that which senses and feels deeply. It does not focus at too young of an age, before the brain is ready, on purely academic endeavors that attempt with rigor to engage a part of the brain that the child has little access to, the underdeveloped neocortex. (The neocortex is not fully developed until we are in our mid- to late twenties!) Instead, what Waldorf educators do successfully is involve and nourish the sensing, feeling parts of the brain, those easily accessed by young children, so that essential foundational neural connections needed for later academic learning are solidly laid.”

Next week I will develop one those three foci of Waldorf Education : The play.

If you are curious about Waldorf Education I recommend you to check this website.

You can also see my article about Creativity benefits.

source

Art, Art and education, creativity

Homemade Clay

You are looking for the simplest activity to set up at home ? Right, I have and idea for you. This recipe is famous in France, you probably already heard about it. Create new toys, home decoration or jewelry has never been so quick and easy!

There is many ways of making your own natural clay, but everybody doesn’t live in the right place to found it. To make it easier, there is a way of making something that come close to clay properties. I call the salt dough!

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  • 1 cup of flour
  • 1/2 cup of salt
  • 1/2 cup of tepid water
  • optional: food coloring

That’s all. You can multiply the quantity as you wish.

Mix the flour and the salt in a bowl. Add progressively the water until the dough come off the bowl. If it’s to wet add flour. If it’s to dry add water.

Let flow your imagination. Salt dough offers endless possibilities! From decoration stuff to jewelry. Or new toys. Don’t make it to big, after baking it become heavy and hard.

Bake 100° degrees celsius between 1 and 2 hours.

Next day you can color them with acrylic painting. Let it dry for few hours. Sometimes add another layer can change radically the aspect.

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I recommend you to involve your child since the beginning of the preparation. Bring all the ingredients together, prepare the dough should be as much fun than the rest. Others tips for this activity are exactly the same then Clay. I recommend you to check the Clay tutorial to get the best pedagogical benefits.

In my next article I will share with you 4 tricks to create with natural stuff.

You want to know more about how nature help child development  ?

 

 

Education, Waldorf

Does Nature essential for the child development ?

Modern society takes us away from nature more each day. This is unfortunate for our well being, and much more for our little children. Nowadays many studies show the health benefits of being in the Nature, but what about children development ?

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As my point of view Nature is for Human like the Sun is for the day, and the Moon for the night. If there was no Sun there would be no day, or probably we’ll call it differently. The Sun is the essence of the day. And vice versa for the moon and stars for the night. It’s very logical, Nature is the essence of the Human being. Everybody know it, but you know sometimes we forget it…

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Our little children need to explore, more then anyone else, their senses and motor skill. I can tell you with a great certitude that nature is the best playground that you can offer to them. Small children are very sensitive with touch and looking of things. Food is one exemple among a thousand. For Rudolf Steiner, artificial stuff drains children vital energy, when nature nourishes them. It is also a place to take care of the living, others, to develop empathy, respect and the sense of wonder.

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It could start with very small things, bring some leaves on the way back home. Invite your child to cook with you or to make clay work. I think you understand it, you can let allow your imagination taking over!

Im my next article I will speak about adult-child relationship.

Meanwhile I let you discover Waldorf Education from a Neuroscientific Perspective.

You want to start now ? I understand, I’ve made a Clay tutorial for you.

Art, Art and education, creativity

Clay tutorial

The spring is coming, every piece of land is turning green. Colorful flowers open up, it is the right moment to go for a walk in the nature with children. Get amazed about each leave, tree, flowers, animals… Collect any material that inspires you, they will help us in this tutorial. Children, for sure, will make a bouquet of flowers to color your living room, they can be used to embellish your creations too.

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Put your apron, ready? Start ! To make clay is a good activity to get dirty but it is also the best way for children, since early years, to shape the matter. Run away from chemical plasticine, use the most natural clay or salt dough if you cannot find it. Avoid all mold, in addition to limit the will of your child, often, it cuts them from any process of imagination and creation. If you are doing this outside, I hope for you that the sun is shining, prepare a bowl with a little of water for your clay to not get dry too fast. Just dip you finger is enough, I don’t want your clay time becomes a swimming pool.

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During first minutes, let your child experiment, don’t give any direction or stimulation. Just do your own, you will be surprised how much a child can learn by itself. Experimenting matter is extremely important during first years, which is why I insist on using natural material. They do not have a whole life experience of earth gravity that has an adult, they are just starting discovering it. Every tiny drop of clay, a child is learning. Each touch with clay, modeling it with both hand, creates new neural connexions and increases left/right hands coordination.

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To finish the activity –  yes you understood the result do not matter –  I propose you to make ornamented bowl. Use your “harvest” to decorate your bowl; you can choose to let them sticked or to just keep the shape inlaid. Let it dry in a soup plate or a bowl to keep the shape.

Show the best example to your child. Don’t try to explain what you are doing. Better to keep silence or even sing, but try to not put words while the hands needs to be stimulated only. Pay attention in your own creation. Let your child experiment by itself. These will strongly influence the global benefits.

In the next tutorial I will relate you how get the best benefits of “Painting time“.

If you want to know more about Creativity benefits.

 

source

 

 

Art, Art and education, creativity, Education

Creativity benefits

The hidden benefits of creativity. Children, teenagers and adults, creative being is an art of living. I hope through this article infuse creativity into your life.

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Our “modern” education has largely relegated creativity to oblivion. Learning only centered on the development of the single mind, leading to its hypertrophy, and this increasingly at young age, lead to the opposite of what was supposedly expected.
The explosion of technology with the trivialization of television and games consoles of all kinds – to which children are also exposed earlier and earlier – have condemned the creativity of generations of children except a few happy islands of exception. The lasting loss of creativity is a real inner death that amputates the child from infinite potential without counting that it seriously reduces humanity.

baby-84626_1280Your child is having a blast finger-painting with a mix of colors. Trying to be encouraging, you ask her, “What are you making?” and she shrugs. Until you mentioned it, she hadn’t given it any thought. Little kids are masters of the moment – they love the way it feels when they smear paint on paper, how it looks when they sprinkle glitter, and even the soft sound a brush makes as it crosses the page. Unlike older kids and adults, most toddlers and preschoolers aren’t self-conscious about what they’re doing or focused on creating a finished product. That can be hard for parents to accept, says Lisa Ecklund-Flores, cofounder and executive director of Church Street School for Music and Art, in New York City. But letting go – and allowing kids to enjoy the process of creation – can reap big rewards. “Children will be better off in the long run if they’re allowed just to be in the moment and express themselves,” she says.

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Fostering creativity won’t just increase your child’s chances of becoming the next Picasso. You’re also helping him develop mentally, socially, and emotionally, says Ecklund-Flores. Creating art may boost young children’s ability to analyze and problem-solve in myriad ways, according to Mary Ann F. Kohl, author of Primary Art: It’s the Process, Not the Product. As kids manipulate a paintbrush, their fine motor skills improve. By counting pieces and colors, they learn the basics of math. When children experiment with materials, they dabble in science. Most important perhaps, when kids feel good while they are creating, art helps boost self-confidence. And children who feel able to experiment and to make mistakes feel free to invent new ways of thinking, which extends well beyond the craft room.learn-2004896_1920A formidable thruster in a professional environment : in the current economy, more and more companies are looking for creative people. These individuals, by their great ability to solve problems in an original and clever way, help them to stay in the race of progress and business. Because creativity goes far beyond being able to achieve beautiful paintings or even solve problems. It is an aptitude that stimulates the whole of your thought process!

A booster of self-confidence : trying new things helps boost self-confidence. Being creative allows us to explore many aspects of our personality and reinforce what we already know about ourselves. This can allow us to discover new talents that we were not aware of before. This process can reinforce our sense of identity and, therefore, increase our level of trust.

A serious more for your social relations : creativity facilitates social relations. Being open-minded and proposing original views on things usually seduces people, I have noticed many times. First, because being curious you allow to talk about a multitude of diverse subjects. But also because in doing so, you share your knowledge, your discoveries with those around you.

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Nowadays success lies mainly in the connections we can make between things. And it is the people who ask questions such as “why” or “why not” who will make the most constructive connections.

Taking time to enjoy creative activities is one of the best investments to nurture body and mind.

What is wonderful about improving creativity is that it allows us to learn to look at the world from a different angle. As I said above, being creative is not just about art or music.

It is first and foremost the way we approach life.

In my next article I will give you fresh ideas to boost creativity.

See you soon

Alexandre

source : Parents.comcreativity benefits (french)creativity (french)

 

 

 

 

Art, Art and education, Education

Case study

During the late 2016 I had the opportunity to give lessons to Adele, a 4 years old girl. I found this case very interesting, and her drawings are awesome. I relate now our story.

Adele at 4 can already have a conversation in English in addition to Russian, her native language. She is quite creative, playful and smart. 

After our first session, she made those two nice drawings alone. During this session we’ve tried to avoid borders/lines in our drawing. It can sound senseless, but it is fundamental.

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More and above a new way of drawing, that creates new connexion in our brain. We see fully objects, and not only their contour.

The greatest challenge was to make her understood that the path is far more important then the result. We experienced a lot of fun in this collaboration.

Defined drawing can block young child imagination. These are example that I draw to inspire her. 

This is what she responds. Her drawings are totally full, I usually not expect such at this age.

These drawings were done with 14 days intervals. They look outwardly similar. In the first drawing the house is not rooted, the roof seem heavy and weighing. She asked help to complete it. In the second one she draw herself with her dog, the house is rooted and the roof seems protective. It looks like the house is growing from the top.

Adele overpass some fears by climbing trees.

I am deeply grateful to Adele and Elmira. Thank you

I you want to know more about Creativity benefits

 

 

 

Art and education

Drawing time

Drawing could be the most easy activity to do at home and a good way for a child to start developing skill. michelangelo-71282Before going in the process I would like you to understand that creating is not just a ‘nice’ activity; it transforms, connects and empowers.

“Making connect the hands, eyes and brain in a very special way,  it’s empowering for both maker and viewer. The act of making is optimistic; it’s an act of faith. People of all ages feel better for doing it.

Making can also be very social – conversations can meander while hands are kept busy. But it can also be very personal and gives confidence to children who listen to their own internal monologue that takes place as they make in solitude.

If we want a world full of creative, entrepreneurial thinkers, we need to enable and sustain making from a very young age. Not all of us will become sculptors or engineers or designers, but we will become more connected, rounded and creative people.”

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By doing art with a child, you should always have in mind that the process of creation is in the center of the activity. It’s important for a child to be able to create without constraints, to liberate its faculty of expression through artistic activity.

Choose a spacious place : set up a space where your kid can be free to experiment (and get messy!).

Avoid giving direction : don’t tell your kid what to make or how to make it. Instead of saying, “Paint a rainbow,” encourage her/him to “experiment with mixing colors using different types of pen and paper,”

Choose material adapted to a child : always prefer natural materials. Most of the time I use beeswax crayon, or wooden pen when they are older. Run away from plastic stuff or chemical pen.

Don’t draw like an adult with your child : When parents draw something representational while a younger child is sketching, it can frustrate him. It’s better to be near him and let him know that you’re interested and supportive of his art-making.

Encourage her instead of giving rewards : Prefer to give her encouragement during the process. If you praise her for the final result, she would be seeking for this reward.

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To inspire a child and set up a creative atmosphere I recommend you to read a fairy tale. Then we go from the story to make a representation (draw the princess of the tale for exemple). Next step could be to transform the tale, add new character, give them new skills. Or make him invent the suite if you didn’t finish the story. To invite him to be creative, if he can’t, we draw with him (principle of imitation).

Invite him to draw for a loved one can also be a great motivator.

You have many keys that you need, these advices, most of them, can be applied to other activities. If you have any questions let me know in the comment or send me an email. I’ll be glad to answer you. I am preparing a surprise for the coming week, stay tuned.

source: the guardianparents.com

Art, Education, Waldorf

Educational Art

Throughout my childhood, art has always been teaching me a lot. One morning I wanted to know how Art education contributes towards child development. What is this tool which is available to everyone? The sheer number of its’ positive aspects are impressive, and yet it is also seriously underestimated. This therefore, marks the beginning of a great adventure.

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The author Robert Fulghum who wrote the best-selling book “Everything I Needed to Know I Learned in Kindergarten,” said that if you go to any kindergarten and ask, “How many of you here can draw?, almost all children will raise their hands. If you ask, “How many of you can sing? All hands would rise again. “And what would happen if you did not know the words? , ‘’We would do it’’ , the children would reply. “How many of you can dance?” All hands would rise again. The young child at the Kindergarten shows us that the human being is an artist. It is part of our essential nature, that we are indeed creators. Art is for the child therefore is a most vital element.

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The Centre for the Developing Child of Harvard University, demonstrated that the human brain creates a major part of its neuronal connections during the early years of its growth. What a great gift it would be to offer to a child the means to develop by expressing himself/herself fully and freely. To explore his/her abilities and become aware of their potential and live life with greater depth from an early age. Art is not only a vital element for the child, it is also vital for education.

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The Artistic Organizations are very clear today. If one looks at a publication that was issued by the National Committee of the State Legislators: Reinventing the Wheel: A Design for Student Achievement in the Twentieth Century, there are an impressive number of positive aspects that the “experts” of Art Education provide. These includes:

1) Art can integrate all areas in a school.

2) Art offers the possibility of new ways of evaluating students.

3) Art excites the learners and keeps them in school. (Studies show that dropout levels decrease with the number of art courses taken by students.)

4) Art promotes a perception of an enlightened development.

5) Art helps creative problem-solving, decision-making, and critical thinking skills.

6) Art helps promote self-discipline, self-esteem and self-awareness.

7) Art stimulates co-operative learning and helps multicultural understanding.

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The Department of Labour reports that in 2013, 80% of the jobs available in the United States are those which didn’t exist in 2002. This trend could only change with the influx of new technologies. Skills such as adaptability, creativity, problem solving, collaboration, and observation – all developed by the arts – should be considered as fundamental parts in the education of tomorrow.

sources: WaldorflibraryCenter on the developing child, Harvard Universities