Let’s Hear It For The Shared Experience

Students from School 30 in Yonkers worked with ArtsWestchester teaching artist Marion Jones Archer to better understand their social studies curriculum through dance and movement relating to important African American figures in U.S. history

Students from School 30 in Yonkers worked with ArtsWestchester teaching artist Marion Jones Archer to better understand their social studies curriculum through dance and movement relating to important African American figures in U.S. history


 
 

Back in the day, teaching was one of the very few career paths open to women. That was not for me, I told my parents.  Teachers work harder and more creatively than anyone I know.  They do this in crowded classrooms, with public address systems blaring directions and with fewer resources than they really need, to address the individual aspirations of the children. My interest was in becoming an artist, not a promising career choice from my parents view. In addition, I had a passion to bring artists into the schools and community.

Fast-forward, the practice of teaching artists has advanced significantly in the past 40 years, making possible an extra pair of creative hands and minds for classroom teachers who crave the dynamic infusion of the arts into their classrooms. Performance artist Amanda Palmer said it well:  “When artists work well, they connect people to themselves, and they stitch people to one another through this shared experience of discovering a connection that wasn’t visible there before.” That connection and shared experience is happening in Westchester schools, thanks to a robust group of cultural organizations and a roster of teaching artists trained to harness their various disciplines in order to help students learn through the arts.

This is a week of culminations in the school calendar.  Some students are receiving diplomas; others are closing the books on both academic and artistic achievements.  It always strikes me as quite wonderful that when it comes time to say so long for the summer, most schools do so with a flourish of music and art.  I think perhaps it’s the “shared experience” that resonates more loudly than individual grade point averages.

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