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Fine Arts & the K-12 Curriculum IncludingEssay

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Fine Arts & the K-12 Curriculum

Including the fine arts in a K-12 curriculum has become a controversial issue in educational institutions and local school settings. Some educators and administrators view the arts as a "frivolous" appendage to the overall school program. Others believe it is an integral part of developing well; rounded individuals and contend that the arts support academic achievement. Since the arts are not included in high stakes testing and are not a part of the No Child Left Behind legislation, communities in support of fine arts programs are finding it difficult to justify the resources and time allocated for music, art and drama when offered. In higher education, over the years, your institution's fine arts department has built an extensive community outreach program for the local schools. Now there is intensifying belt; tightening talk involving reducing the budget for such programs. While the program has relied less on actual dollars, the institution has acknowledged the work of faculty and staff in advancement programs and considers its support of outreach as a kind of monetary investment. As the instructional leader, you have been assigned to develop a program that addresses inclusion of the arts in an era of sharply limited resources. You are to present to your immediate supervisor and ultimately the school community a clear and thoroughly researched report with recommendations regarding this program.

A. What process in the creation of this plan would you use to identify and select the appropriate stakeholders?

Increased use of teacher tests has contributed to recruitment problems for the profession. Increasingly, states, colleges, and universities are requiring teacher candidates to pass teacher competency tests for certification (Nagel & Peterson, 2001). Most teacher tests are technically sound and provide important information about content; related knowledge (Blair, 2001). Tests designed to measure teaching competency have been criticized for not measuring the range of knowledge and skills teachers need or to adequately predict classroom success (Blair, 2001; Nagel & Peterson, 2001-page 53; National Research Council of the National Academies, 2000, 2001; Scherer, 2001-page 121). Concerns about using a single teacher test to evaluate teacher competency were raised by Scherer (2001). Teacher tests, as in all assessments of learning, should be part of assessment programs that include multiple measures to determine teacher candidate competency (Nagel & Peterson, 2001-page 34; Scherer, 2001-page 12; Zimmerman, 1997-page 200). Blair (2001) reported that states are required by Congress to rank institutions by passing rates of teacher candidates on state teacher tests and, based on requirements of Title II of the Higher Education Act, authorized in 1998. According to this act, the federal government could limit funding to state and teacher preparation programs based on students' performances on state teacher tests. As a result some students may be highly successful in college, but if they do not pass the tests, they cannot enter the teaching profession. No one wants incompetent teachers in any classroom; however, teacher; testing programs have contributed to discouraging some from pursuing teaching as a career (Scherer, 2001). Studies of passing rates of art education teacher candidates on teacher competency tests have not been conducted. Such studies have great potential to contribute to understanding the impact this issue has had on recruitment of students to the field of art education.

An additional issue related to testing has contributed to recruiting problems. The current emphasis on adhering to standards and testing in the classroom has driven people out of the profession (Scherer, 2001). Teachers feel an increasing lack of control in planning curriculum and other aspects of their teaching because of pressures caused by national, state, and local testing programs. Testing programs have acted to determine what and how teachers teach. This takes away significant characteristics that define for teachers what it means to be a professional and acts to complicate recruitment of students by discouraging some who may want to become teachers. Sabol (1999) reported that emphasis on state testing in the visual arts and in other disciplines was an increasing concern for art teachers in rural and urban schools. Teachers in both studies suggested that testing programs were distracting, time consuming, lacked sufficient scope to measure the full range of visual arts learning, and served to direct curriculum content. Stakeholders who demand accountability for learning in public schools should be made aware of the negative impact testing has had on students and teachers. Full understanding of the drawbacks of testing programs and their influences on learning may enable stakeholders to reevaluate demands for testing programs and tests' form and content.

Numerous and complex factors contribute to recruitment of teachers for the field. Researchers must actively engage in research that will provide information needed by policymakers and stakeholders to respond to recruitment needs in visual arts education.

B. What are the curricular, instructional, professional development, and program evaluation issues that must be considered and addressed?

There are no agreed; upon definitions for the terms gifted, talent, and creativity. In popular usage, the term gifted often refers to students who have superior academic abilities, and the term talented usually refers to students with superior abilities in the visual and performing arts or sports. Teachers often describe their outstanding academic students as "gifted, " whereas outstanding art students are "talented. " Obviously there is a hierarchy of importance with talent as a term indicating a lesser endowment. The term gifted has retained that meaning, but talented also has been defined as possessing superior abilities in a single school subject, such as mathematics, language arts, science, or the fine arts. The term gifted and talented, in many contexts, has been replaced by talent development. So the emphasis has shifted from identifying predetermined gifts to nurturing talents (Feldhusen, 1992-page 12; Feldhusen & Hoover, 1986-page 198).

Winner (1996) offered a useful discussion of giftedness and distinguishes it from "talent. " She insists that the term gifted should apply equally to individuals with abilities in academic and artistic fields. Winner identifies gifted children by three traits: (a) precocity that is demonstrated by early and surprisingly great skill and ability in the mastery of a given symbolic domain. Gifted children master basics at a young age and show rapid growth in acquiring content and skills. (b) the urge to master. Gifted children value total immersion in the domain of their choice. They have an insatiable urge to absorb and learn as much and as quickly as possible. (c) Gifted children often find their own way. They do not march in lockstep with most of their peers, and very often find unique solutions to problems and sometimes do not need the "scaffolding" provided to less able learners. This is not to say that gifted children do not require any instruction rather that their instruction needs to be qualitatively different from that offered to less gifted individuals. In our discussion we will use the term talented but will keep in mind the constellation of traits previously described by Winner.

There is no clear relationship among the terms talent, giftedness, and creativity. Sternberg and Lubart's (1999) definition of creativity as "the ability to produce work that is both novel & #8230; and appropriate" (p. 3) is one that has been widely accepted. According to Csikszentmihalyi (1996), talent differs from creativity in that talent focuses on the ability to do something well, and most people in the case studies about creative adults that he and his colleagues researched achieved creative success without exceptional talent being evident. Gardner (1996) categorized seven individuals as creative according to each of his seven intelligence types (Picasso was included in the spatial intelligence category). Gardner explained that talented individuals function within a well; defined domain of knowledge within a culture. On the other hand, creative individuals often "lack fit" within a domain of knowledge and only after much time and effort do they establish a body of work that comes to be valued in a culture.

Certain personality traits may play a role in determining which gifted and talented children achieve their adult potentials in areas of art and science. As a result of his case studies of adults who achieved success in the arts and sciences, Feist (1999) concluded that giftedness as measured by high IQ scores might be a poor indicator of adult creative achievement and success. He conjectured that "lack of predictive validity of aptitude tests can be explained by the small relationship between intelligence and creativity" (p. 286).

Theoretical Aspects of Art Learning Among Gifted and Talented Individuals

In this discussion, we stress that special abilities and gifts found in the domain of the arts are just as "intellectual" and "cognitive" as gifts associated with high performance in domains such as math and science. Let there be no mistake, the visual arts do require intelligent thought and require problem; finding and problem; solving behaviors. Gardner's (1983, 1999) research on multiple intelligences and the foundational work of Arnheim (1969) on visual thinking in the arts both firmly establish the claim for artistry as flowing out of intelligent behavior and… [END OF PREVIEW]

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