3 Rs, 4 Cs and the arts

P21 (Partnership for 21st Century Skills) has released a skills map for the arts, which shows “how the three Rs and four Cs (critical thinking and problem solving, communication, collaboration and creativity and innovation) can be fused within arts curriculum.”

. . . at the fourth-grade level, students could be asked to perform and record the same story three times; once with words only, once with physical movement only, and once with both. They then review the different performances and reflect in group discussions and individual writing about how the presentations and story changed and whether or not one version communicated more effectively than another and why.

At the eighth-grade level, students could be asked to examine how composers, artists, choreographers, and playwrights use the arts to communicate particular ideas, themes, or concepts and to evoke particular emotions or feelings. They then would develop multimedia presentations illustrating how such communication occurs through each of the arts disciplines.

In twelfth grade, students could be asked to view and discuss single or multiple works of art created by themselves and their peers. Students would be required to use mutually agreed upon criteria (elements and principals of art and design, subject matter, technique, style, etc.) to describe, analyze, interpret, and make informed judgments about the art works.

This seems a little 22nd century to me.

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  1. An approach like this would have killed the arts for me.

  2. Cynical says:

    After convincing children that academics are incomprehensible, now they want to inculcate the attitude that arts are nonsensical.  I suppose turnabout is fair play, but the price is too high.

    This approach assumes that all children are highly social.  The shy, nerdy types will have anxiety attacks over this sort of thing.  Parents of Asperger’s children should let it be known that trying to implement such a program means lawsuits.

  3. Actually, the approaches outlined here don’t strike me as particularly “22nd century.” With the exception of the multimedia presentations, much of what is described here strikes me as more rigorous and analytical than simple “art appreciation.” The fourth-grade example, which might seem a bit fluffy to some, has had strong precedents in past centuries.

  4. It’s interesting that these requirements seem to preclude books as works of art. You don’t “view” a book, nor do you perform it.

    This sounds like an initiative designed to make it easy on teachers: much better to grade a group performing an interpretive dance in response to the symbolism in the movie Mad Max than to have to grade an essay about Hamlet.

    Any student “performance” that is graded solely on the teacher’s opinion is always suspect. This includes all those silly projects where kids have to cut out pictures from magazines or build dioramas or sculpt volcanoes with working “lava”. They’re easy to assign, easy to grade and teach practically nothing – except that school is a tedious exercise in driving students crazy.

  5. I sometimes wonder if teachers grasp how much time goes into some of these presentations. When we had to do these sorts of projects, much more time went into editing than understanding, and scenes were chosen based on what we could reasonably act out instead of what was most important. Our teachers gave a lot of credit to production quality. The only people helped by these projects in my high school were a group of slacker guys who made movies for fun. They were suddenly very popular and got snapped up by the ‘good students’ – having one of these guys upped your grade because they had editing equipment.

  6. I remember my kids ES days, when book reports were not allowed to be written(!!) and kids had the option of acting out a scene. Picture a girl (always), friends, costumes etc. taking 45 minutes to set this up and do it; a colossal waste of time. The other option was a diorama. It’s a wonder that my kids and I can look at a shoebox without shuddering.

  7. That should have been kids’

  8. Deirdre Mundy says:

    When I think back over Elementary School– I realize my best art and music teachers were the ones who taught skills and culture.

    So, their lessons involved skills (rhythm, note recognition, singing in harmony) and often used material from the cultures we were studying in class. (i.e. native american and colonial songs for early american history.)

    Art was similar– perspective, different methods of expression, and projects tied to the curriculum.

    These teachers taught us how to do useful things so that we could create on our own time as well, and they gave us another window into the worlds we were studying.

    These new goals seem to put ‘The arts’ in a world of their own, instead of as an integrated part of the curriculum. Fail.

  9. My ES teachers did similar things. We didn’t have art or music teachers (except a few weeks of music before the Christmas and spring concerts) but our regular teachers would have been insulted if someone suggested they couldn’t do this. They also incorporated art and music history/appreciation into the history we were studying, using pictures, occasional film strips and records.


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