• Kevin Cordi

Points of Entry Part 2


They wrote that what the art lessons add to the classroom is the opportunity for students to understand, remember, think, work together, become confident, and be motivated. Arts integration enables students to be active, to experience things directly, and to express themselves in ways that best suit the students. In the process, of course, students have fun and enjoy themselves and are enthusiastic which, in turn, makes them eager for the next time they can engage in active, hands­on, and varied lessons. Ultimately, students will acquire knowledge about, appreciation of, and a talent for the cultural aspects of being a citizen in their community, state, and country. The evaluators concluded that the teacher’s artistic instructional repertoire enabled him/her to tap students’ varied strengths and provide multiple ways to acquire, process, and demonstrate what they learn. In other words ­­ the arts provide multiple points of entry! We each – as teachers, and teaching artists – have the opportunity to fuel the flame of learning. We hold keys that can unlock joy and curiosity and enthusiasm and eagerness to learn. We know ways to engage children in an avid quest for knowledge, and methods of teaching that address all ways of knowing and styles of learning. But we sometimes let inner messages stop us: It’s easier to do it the old way. This is the way we’ve ALWAYS DONE IT! We KNOW that each child is different, and that each child has different ways of learning. We KNOW that there is no ONE way to teach. But we let the inner – and outer ­­ messages control us. We teach the way the book says to do it, and if that fails to reach a child, we blame the child...or the book...or the system. Let me share a poem with you... The Cold Within by James Patrick Kinney Six humans trapped by happenstance in black and bitter cold Each possessed a stick of wood, Or so the story's told. Their dying fire in need of logs, the first woman held hers back For of the faces around the fire She noticed one was black. The next man looking 'cross the way Saw one not of his church And couldn't bring himself to give The fire his stick of birch. The third one sat in tattered clothes He gave his coat a hitch, Why should his log be put to use To warm the idle rich? The rich man just sat back and thought Of the wealth he had in store, And how to keep what he had earned From the lazy, shiftless poor. The black man's face bespoke revenge As the fire passed from his sight, For all he saw in his stick of wood Was a chance to spite the white. And the last man of this forlorn group Did naught except for gain, Giving only to those who gave Was how he played the game. The logs held tight in death's stilled hands Was proof of human sin, They didn't die from the cold without, They died from the cold within. Think about what can happen if those men around the fire put aside their inner messages ­­ what can happen if they look at things from a DIFFERENT PERSPECTIVE. Imagine what will happen when we as teachers and storytellers share the fire! Storytelling can ignite that fire ­­ it can engage kids in learning – and when kids are engaged, discipline problems begin to disappear. Attendance becomes more regular. Teachers can teach because the kids are eager to learn! That’s how classrooms can be transformed – and when more and more classrooms experience the power of storytelling, more and more transformation takes place within a school. Learning can and will happen in a place like that! Now let’s talk about the KIND of learning that’s happening when storytelling comes into the classroom. Einstein once said, “I am enough of an artist to draw freely upon my imagination. Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited, whereas imagination embraces the entire world, stimulating progress, giving birth to evolution. “ When storytelling enters the classroom, students aren’t just learning to regurgitate facts and figures – they’re learning to think imaginatively! In A Whole New Mind, Daniel Pink argues that never before has right­brain, creative thinking been more important than in today’s society. Due to the proliferation of technology, the changing workforce and shifts in the global marketplace, we must be teaching our children how to think conceptually and holistically – and how to think outside the box to solve challenging dilemmas. Learning through the arts is the most effective way to encourage and achieve that kind of thinking. Storytelling provides an approach to education with the potential to transform whole schools by reinvigorating teaching in core subjects and inspiring students to greater joy and achievement in learning. Storytelling instruction has the power to shift thinking patterns and learning capacity for teachers and students alike. As Jane Stenson puts it in the Storytelling Classroom: Applications Across the Curriculum (Libraries Unlimited, 2006), “storytelling belongs in an on­going and fundamental way in education. It allow teachers to teach Language Arts, Social Studies, Math and Science standards in holistic and meaningful ways. It changes the way teachers manage children and the way everyone speaks to each other; it's democratic; it's fun; it's whole; and it's very, very humane.” So put storytelling to work in the classroom to teach the standards, engage the students, and empower learning!


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