Art Works: Integrating Creativity in the Curriculum
At Boston Arts Academy, high student achievement is driven by infusing the rigorous college-prep program with visual arts, dance, theater and music. Read the article.
Release Date: 9/19/06
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Art Works: Integrating Creativity in the Curriculum (Transcript)
Narrator: Like many of his classmates at the Boston Arts Academy, Marvin Balan is a gifted musician. Ironically his passion for music grew out of his dread of math class.
Marvin Balan: I was in sixth grade and a couple friends of mine, they was like "Oh, guess what? I get to miss math class for music." And I'm like "Really?" So, and so I was like "So who's the music teacher again?"
And so I will go up to him like wondering if I could participate in the band, and in my head I'm just like so I can get out of math class. The funny thing is I love math nowadays.
Narrator: More than one third of incoming freshmen test at least two years below grade level, but as seniors, 97 percent of them graduate and go on to college.
Teacher: Up, push through.
George Simpson: The intention behind this school is to take their main passion and to say okay, now you've got this.
We'll grow this with you. We'll allow you to use this, but we still want you to do the literacy, the numeracy, the science, the humanities, all of those other things.
Marvin Balan: There's a number of experiments that was conducted in which they found that the temporal lobe, which is the side of the brain right here is responsible for processing the music.
Charnay Paris: I wouldn't say that my dance is separate from my academics.
I guess it makes everything, it makes the whole high school experience easier because you're doing-- you're learning and you're also doing what you love.
Narrator: Only 25 percent of those who try out pass the artistic audition.
Narrator: Once accepted, they choose a major: visual arts, theater, music or dance and spend the next four years honing their skills for several hours each day on top of the school's rigorous academic program.
Anne Clark: We're going to continue our South Africa unity today by-
I think our school works because for at least half the day students feel successful.
If a student is struggling in my academic class, I can go down the hall to his or her arts block and see them being that genius. So the trick is to use that artistic passion and power to get them through their academics.
George Simpson: One of the values, the main values that I see in music for all of our students are some of the life skills that it teaches you.
I mean you can't be a good musician without practice, without discipline, without responsibility, without dedication, without all of those things.
Apollo Payton: I really just walked in with my eyes closed hoping that I was going to meet you know some teachers that would really just-
Help me to grow as a person, as a leader, and as a musician. Luckily for me I found that in both aspects of my academics and my music classes.
Teacher: Think slowing down and really be thoughtful about what note you're going to do.
Apollo Payton: Okay.
Teacher: Because you only have to do like half-steps.
Anne Clark: Art is important to keep students engaged, number one, but arts for artistic students is a- way of being. Is a way of thinking. And art isn't, instead of math, art is math. If you look at for example what our visual artists are doing with perspective and design that is math.
Narrator: No matter what major they pursue, students are held to high standards here in arts and academics.
Barrington Edwards: The idea is good so you want to make sure that you don’t lose momentum because you only have-
I think too many people make the standards lower for students who actually need higher standards. They need more support to get to those higher standards, but they need higher standards because the world keeps making the standard higher.
The jobs that they need in order to pay their bills require higher standards evermore increasingly, and these students really need to be challenged. And even in their personal development they need higher standards and they need to internalize the principle of rigor.
George Simpson: A little bit- challenge yourselves a little bit quicker. One and two and uh-uh-uh.
We do music that oftentimes is more advanced than what the students are capable of doing and that's on purpose. We do that so that- the kids can see that with hard work, with dedication, with all of those adjectives that you use- that they can go, they can succeed, and they can create excellence.
That was great. You notice how easy it was to come in when you do that? Oh, beautiful. Mmm.
Narrator: In order to graduate, students must write a grant proposal for their senior portfolio project that ties together their artistic passion with a community service.
Anne Clark: They propose some artistic community service project and they must present it-
The real way which is by putting together a budget, putting together a presentation- Putting together a visual and selling it to funders. And the point of that is that that's a way to assess and to understand real knowledge and those skills are just as important as anything that you would- assess through a bubble.
Charnay Paris: I will create art in the future that is a representation of me, myculture, my political views and everything that has to do with what I think about life.
Anne Clark: A big part of our thesis for why this school works is art is a power in society and students who find their power as artists, go on to be powerful members of society.
Anne Clark: If you want to get something done in the world you need to be able to not only have something to say but have a way to say it and make sure that you're heard.
Produced, Written, and Directed by
- Ken Ellis
- Amy Erin Borovoy
- Karen Sutherland
- Amy Erin Borovoy
- Intersection Associates
- John McGannon
- Susu Wing
- Kris Welch
- Ed Bogas
Additional Footage Courtesy of
- Daniela Coleman
- Phyllis Bretholtz
- © 2006
- The George Lucas Educational Foundation
- All rights reserved.
© 2006 | The George Lucas Educational Foundation | All Rights Reserved