Facebook
Edutopia on Facebook
Twitter
Edutopia on Twitter
Google+
Edutopia on Google+
Pinterest
Edutopia on Pinterest Follow Me on Pinterest
WHAT WORKS IN EDUCATION The George Lucas Educational Foundation

Do the Arts have a special role in Special Education?

Do the Arts have a special role in Special Education?

Related Tags: Special Education
More Related Discussions
12 Replies 631 Views
What role do the arts play in your classroom, in your school and in the lives of your students? Do your students have access to music instruction? Visual arts? Theater? Dance? As school budgets continue to be cut, arts are often among the first programs to go. What will this mean to your students? My school lost our orchestra instructor and a visual art teacher this year. Not only did this have ab impact on direct instruction, it also drastically cut the number and types of electives available to all students. Special education students were a significant part of the school orchestra and now they have nowhere to learn and perform. Is this sort of thing happening in your school, in your community?

Comments (12 Replies)Sign in or register to postSubscribe to comments via RSS

Erika Saunders's picture
Erika Saunders
6th-8th Special Ed, LS & Mentally Gifted teacher

[quote]Erika,

Great post! I think that the artistic spirit with which you approach your work must make the lives of your students much richer. Not only that, your life as teacher must be much more engaging as well!!!

stephen[/quote]

Thanks Stephen! I only wish I could still do it the way I used to. Our school has gone to an inclusion model and I co-teach with classroom teachers for Literacy and Math. Unfortunately, they haven't really embraced the "co" part of co-teaching: I'm more like a good aid or a strong student teacher. I'm hoping that we continue to grow with this and I can contribute more to the classroom and the students

Here's hoping!

Erika

John's picture

The classroom teacher and I play the local classical music station on the radio every day at different intervals during the day. We find that it helps our children to relax and focus better.

John's picture

The classroom teacher and I play the local classical music station on the radio every day at different intervals during the day. We find that it helps our children to relax and focus better.

VonDietra's picture

I feel that visual art is one of the most important forms of art that not only impacts, stimulates and motivates the minds of children but is the cornerstone of our existence. Almost, everything that we do,see, touch and wear requires some type of visual artistic involvment. Patterns on clothing, the construction of clothing, the design of a car, house, phone, shoe, etc. all of these things requires someone with a creative mind to bring them into existence. However, the powers that be do not seem to understand this. They view the world of art as being something frivolous.

Presently,our school has lost valuable programs such as wood shops and graphic design and we stand to possibly loose our music and art program next school year due to cuts.

These programs provide students with the opportunity to explore their creative abilities and motivate them academically because they find the necessity for academics to execute a creative thought.

Deven Black's picture
Deven Black
Middle school teacher-librarian in the Bronx, NY

Unfortunately, this age of high-stakes pencil & paper exams is leaving the arts and any kind of hands-on and kinesthetic learning behind. It is ironic in that we are told to differentiate teaching but the very things that make differentiation possible, art, music, dance, woodwork, graphic shop, etc. are cut from programs to reduce spending and/or make more time for test prep. Just one more education paradox, I guess.

Michael Kelly's picture

I have a kiddo (an 8 year old) with significant speech/communication challenges, sensory integration issues, and learning disabilities. He's currently in a self-contained classroom where he's working on basic reading skills and early numeracy skills.

About two months ago I was at a school event chatting with the director of the upcoming school production of The Pied Piper, and she mentioned that she was having trouble finding students to play the smaller non-speaking parts--especially the rats and children led off by the Piper. I told her, "My kid can do that." I suspect that the inclusion of a special needs student in the production was something of a new thought, but to her credit my son came home with a rehearsal schedule a couple days later.

It was AMAZING! My son was thrilled to be part of it, the other students in the play rallied around my boy to ensure that he hit his marks on stage, and the other kiddos in my son's self-contained classroom were thrilled to see one of their own on stage at the preview performance given during school.

My son now knows a lot more students at the school, and they know him. And not just at a cursory name-only basis, they actually spent time with him and creatively found ways to include him in their production that enabled him to be successful. In addition, I think there's been a broadening in the minds of the administrators and educators at the school about what's possible with children who have special needs.

It was an extraordinary moment of inclusion for my son. In truth, far more effective than our earlier efforts to include him in the academics of the gen ed classroom. So, the arts provided an opportunity for my son to participate in the larger learning community in a way that had previously eluded him.

Deven Black's picture
Deven Black
Middle school teacher-librarian in the Bronx, NY

[quote]
It was an extraordinary moment of inclusion for my son. In truth, far more effective than our earlier efforts to include him in the academics of the gen ed classroom. So, the arts provided an opportunity for my son to participate in the larger learning community in a way that had previously eluded him.[/quote]

As your son has shown once again, disability is solely a matter of context. When the context is adapted to the student, as in the case of your son and the non-speaking role, the disability becomes an asset and success ensues.

The problem is that we keep trying to adapt students to the context of academics and schools when what we should be doing is adapting school to the abilities of the students.

Michael Kelly's picture

[quote]As your son has shown once again, disability is solely a matter of context.[/quote]
Yep. In fact, I'd say we're all pretty much a function of our context. I know that I myself can feel radically more able depending on context. But the qualities that make a context work can be subtle, complex, and difficult to engineer. And for my son, finding workable contexts can be particularly challenging. When my wife and I find one, we feel incredibly fortunate and we do our best to keep the magic going as long as possible.

Jan Fourman's picture

Hi All,

I just joined the group and was happy to see this question as I think it is very important .

I'm certified in art and Special Education.. highly qualified in math, social studies.. oh we do it all as special ed teachers don't we?!? My whole philosophy is to integrate the arts into the curriculum. the more hands-on activities the better I think.

Plus many of the electives are where the Special Ed kids can be included and shine. One of our autistic students got in the high school art show this year. I don't believe the selecting committee knew he had special needs. over 800 students tried to get into this art show. ONly 450 made it!

I also help with a non-profit that helps kids and adults with disabilities get involved with the arts. We have a gallery in Denver and this is the state chapter. MOst states have some sort of program. It stems from DC and one of the Kennedy sisters started this group called the Very Special Arts.. and guess what Eunice started?? The Special Olympics. Look for a program in your area by going to the national website..VSA. Many state programs are free and give classes , trainings for teachers, etc. Great stuff!

Hopefully all of us can include the arts into our classrooms.. If the classes don't exist anylonger..start a club, try getting more creative with projects. Give the kids a choice on how to finish an assignment. For Example, kids could select a poem, writing a letter, drawing, painting or a play to show what they have learned. Could be for any class I think.

have a good spring! and good luck to all and may we keep have patience and strength to help our kids.

thanks, Jan

Jan Fourman's picture

sounds awesome! and good for you for bringing the plays to the school and making it happen.

Your lesson ideas sound really great and so much fun for the kids. I would love to be a student in your class!

thanks, Jan

Discussion 5 Typing Test Every Teacher Should Know About

Last comment 6 days 8 hours ago in Classroom Technology

Discussion The Un-Fallacy of Balanced Literacy

Last comment 1 week 1 day ago in Literacy

Discussion How Friends and Classmates Can Help a Dyslexic Child

Last comment 1 week 6 days ago in Learning Environments

Discussion Are Graduate Degrees a Thing of the Past?

Last comment 1 week 5 days ago in Professional Development

Discussion Looking for Print Resources for Special Educators

Last comment 3 weeks 2 days ago in Curriculum Planning

Sign in and Join the Discussion! Not a member? Register to join the discussion.