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Innovative Arts Integration
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Original Content12/1/2010

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Creativity, innovation and imagination are increasingly viewed as integral to shaping the future of both the emerging workforce and the concept of a world citizen.

Two months ago, OPERA America featured an interesting follow-up by Dr. Thomas Wolf to the July 10 Newsweek article entitled "The Creativity Crisis", which grappled with the issue of a creativity competency within the American workforce. (Wolf's article originally appeared in the WolfBrown publication On Our Minds, and is available here as part of the OPERA America Learning Center Archives.)

Wolf closes his commentary with a thoughtful and thought-provoking comment: "The overall message [of the Newsweek article] is one we can all agree on: there is a need for a different kind of educational approach in this country that is not solely controlled by standardized tests and strict curricula, but rather is based on identifying and solving problems with a hands-on approach, and is available for everyone."

Identifying the need for a new educational approach is relatively straightforward, but finding an actual approach that meets Wolf's criteria is much more complicated.

One such approach can be seen in the recent Education Week article about the integration of dance into core academic classes at a Maryland elementary school. Here, second graders learned the biology of photosynthesis and literally embodied the changes that take place during the process by creating different movements to represent the necessary elements like sunlight, water and chlorophyll.

This intermarriage of dance and biology gives young students a platform for fostering creativity and imagination and simultaneously builds skills in the STEM fields, from which the U.S. Department of Labor expects the greatest growth and greatest impact in the coming years.

It is easy to imagine — and difficult to underestimate — the potential long-term impact of infusing classroom teaching and learning with the allied arts of opera (dance, visual arts, theater and music). Such integration would provide an ideal platform for cultivating the creativity deemed essential by educators and executives alike.



For more information on the importance of creativity and innovation both in the classroom and in the workplace, see the recent study by The Conference Board and Americans for the Arts, in partnership with the American Association of School Administrators. The full study is available here, or view just the key findings of the study here.
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