Saturday, February 09, 2013

Douglas it is. My kiddo is getting an a+ education.

We got the best news yesterday.

For months now, I've been trying to ready myself and my attitude for sending Christopher to our base school. I've been chanting the mantra of, "It is what you make of it," and reminding myself that he will have a good education no matter what. I was promising to be involved and present. I was sending the worry down the river on a leaf every day.

His base school is a tenth of a mile further from another elementary school where the rest of our neighborhood gets to go. Douglas Elementary is in our neighborhood, not across a busy street, and is exactly what I believe an school should be.

Arts and science. That is their magnet program. Not just STEM. But ARTS and science.

I've had so many conversations with other parents who reassure me that my children will get the arts because Kevin and I are artists. True. Kevin is also a scientist, but we wouldn't take science out of Christopher's education just because Kevin could cover that at home.

I've also been told that it's normal to just have music class once a week. Or art. Or drama. Just a "special" within the constructs of the core curriculum.

I'm actually alright with that.

What I believe arts in education should look like is not about a 30 minute music class. It's about using the arts in teaching everything else. Integrated.

I don't need Christopher's school to teach him to play an instrument, but they should be teaching him music as the ultimate example of math and language working in complete symbiosis.

I don't need Christopher's school to teach him modern dance, but they should be teaching him how to use movement to express himself, to exercise, and to have fun.

I don't need Christopher's school to teach him how to be a sculptor, but they should be using visual arts to teach spacial relations, geometry, color spectrum - you get my point.

When I talk about integrating the arts into the classroom, I'm talking about using creative learning. There are so many different ways that children learn. If you can harness the individual learning styles of children through creative learning styles, why wouldn't you?

I'm so grateful that Christopher will be at Douglas. It's one of two a+ elementary schools in Wake County. A model that I wish would be adopted by every school. From the a+ schools website,

"The A+ Schools Program is a whole-school reform model that views the arts as fundamental to teaching and learning in all subjects. A+ Schools combine interdisciplinary teaching and daily arts instruction, offering children opportunities to develop creative, innovative ways of thinking, learning and showing what they know. In A+ Schools, teaching the state’s mandated curriculum involves a collaborative, many-disciplined approach, with the arts continuously woven into every aspect of a child’s learning."

That's the difference. We don't teach children science because we expect them all to grow up and become professional scientists. We don't teach them Language Arts because we expect them all to grow up and become novelists. I don't even teach piano privately because I expect my students to grow up and become concert pianists.

We teach them these things because they are part of a whole education that they need to become productive citizens. Just like creative thinking and the arts are part of that education, like this Washington Post article points out, giving them skills that are never even touched in the traditional curriculum.

So I'm extremely excited about Christopher's placement at Douglas via the magnet program. Now. If we could get every school to adopt the a+ model and give every child the best chance, I would be over the moon.