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National Coordinator’s Conference Report: UNESCO World Conference on Arts Education

Building Creative Competencies for the 21st Century

June 27, 200727 June 2007

Arts Education

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This report from ArtsSmarts provides a brief summary of the UNESCO World Conference on Arts Education.

According to a presentation of the findings of “The Wow Factor”: Global research compendium on the impact of the arts in education (by Anne Bamford), some aspects of high quality arts education programs include:

  • Active partnerships between schools and arts organizations and between teachers, artists and communities;
  • Shared responsibility for planning, implementation, assessment and evaluation;
  • Opportunities for public performance, exhibition and/or presentation;
  • A combination of specific development within the art forms (education in the arts) with artistic and creative approaches to learning (education through the arts);
  • Provision for critical thinking, problem solving and risk taking;
  • Emphasis on collaboration;
  • An inclusive stance for accessibility to all children;
  • Detailed strategies for assessing and reporting on children’s learning, experiences and development;
  • Ongoing professional learning for teachers, artists and the community, and
  • Flexible school structures and permeable boundries between schools and the community.

Tuula Tamminen, Professor of Child Psychiatry and President of the World Association of International Mental Health, indicated that arts education:

  • Exercises self-expression, training to notice (sensitivity, empathy) and practicing to understand emotions (self/other-understanding);
  • Enables one to experience and share emotions (self-understanding, empathy);
  • Offers support for emotional maturation (self-esteem);
  • Facilitates the practice of all 4 steps needed to have empathy;
  • Promotes balanced mental development in today’s knowledge-based world; and
  • Improves social (empathy) and interactional (emotional) skills of individuals.

A presentation by Arnold Aprill, Executive Director of Chicago Arts Partnerships in Education (CAPE) and Dr. Gail Burnaford, Teacher Education at Florida Atlantic University, highlighted long-term arts education partnerships as an effective strategy for systemic school improvement. Drawing on research studies, they presented evidence that long-term partnerships between school systems and professional arts communities had addressed a surprisingly wide range of persistent challenges to systemic school improvement:

  • broad-based access to the arts;
  • achievement gaps in academic content;
  • cultural understanding between diverse cultures;
  • drop out prevention;
  • teacher retention;
  • and more.

The ArtsSmarts summary also contains information and links to the Scottish Executive’s new cultural strategy (which outlines cultural entitlement for all citizens of Scotland), the national priorities in school education in Scotland, and Creative Partnerships UK (a program of the Arts Council England).

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