Jerome Kagan gave the keynote at a conference I attended last spring called "Learning, Arts and the Brain" sponsored by the Dana Foundation. The full speech may be found on the Dana Foundation website at http://www.dana.org/news/features/detail.aspx?id=21740. I offer up his reasons here for discussion. 1. The first advantage is that it boosts the self confidence among the children who are behind in mastery of reading and arithmetic. 2. A second reason for an arts/music curriculum, which has a more recent history, may help the middle-class children who have been infantilized by overprotective parents who were excessively concerned with the child’s grades and talent profile. 3. A third advantage to an arts/music program, which might help all children, is based on the fact that the mind uses three distinct forms, or tools, to acquire, store, and communicate knowledge. 4. A fourth advantage lies with the opportunity to provide all American youth with some values they feel warrant consistent loyalty. 5. The fifth advantage of an arts curriculum is that it allows a number of children to work as a cooperative unit when they compose a mural or play in the school band or orchestra. 6. Finally, art and music provide opportunities for all children to experience and to express feelings and conflicts that are not yet fully conscious and cannot be expressed coherently in words. Do you think this is a good list? Or, is it missing something. Dr. Kagan is a psychology professor. How do we respond as artists, art teachers and art enthusiasts? Biography from Dana Foundation Website: Jerome Kagan, Ph.D., emeritus professor of psychology at Harvard University, was co-director of the Harvard Mind/Brain/Behavior Interfaculty Initiative. He is a pioneer in the study of cognitive and emotional development during the first decade of life, focusing on the origins of temperament, and is the author or co-author of more than 20 books, including the classic Galen’s Prophecy: Temperament in Human Nature (Basic Books, 1994).
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