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Seedlings Planting Joy. Growing Hope. All while having a bit of fun.

Why the Arts?

Young artist in the making...

From STEM to STEAM; Why the A Matters

Arts education has long been considered superfluous in relation to other academic subjects. Visual and (particularly) performing arts are often relegated to extra-curricular activities, which demand additional time and financial resources to participate in. Parents and students love art, but don't consider it meaningful enough to prioritize it as part of the curriculum, especially in the face of budget cutbacks. Recent research from Mississippi State University proves, however, that "effective classroom arts integration can reduce or eliminate educational achievement gaps for economically disadvantaged students."

And so STEM becomes STEAM. The problem is that so many of the schools which have had to make the most severe cuts to the arts in order to maintain Common Core standards in math and literacy are now even further from being able to integrate an arts curriculum. It becomes a downward spiral; arts are cut to provide more budgetary room and class time for testing, but since creative exposure to subject matter is such a powerful tool for memory and retention, students are less likely to succeed at the tests. Schools with low test scores are subject to additional testing and tutoring requirements for non-arts programs without receiving additional funding, which means even more "unnecessary" programs are eliminated.

One way to ease the burdens on under-funded schools and thus marginalized students and their families is to provide the supplies needed for creative education. Art supplies such as crayons, paper, pencils that we supply in our backpacks are just the first step to making sure each student has the tools to participate in arts education. But one of the larger problems with arts education is the inaccessibility of certain artforms, specifically the performing arts. Already seen as an almost exclusively extracurricular endeavor (band, theater, dance team, etc.), students who can’t afford to participate in extracurriculars due to time or financial constraints are excluded from these art forms. This is why we’re working with Silicon Valley Shakespeare to bring theater education into classrooms. The company already has a deep commitment to accessibility, annually producing free, public plays and offering in-class creative educational opportunities.

Images of Audra Lorde, Robert Frost and the cover of "The Giving Tree."

Poetry Corner:

Since half of our boba team is on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean, we’re pausing boba Thursday for a few weeks. This Thursday was National Poetry Day, and we thought it appropriate to share some of our favorite poems, considering our discussion of the arts’ importance.

Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening

By Robert Frost

Whose woods these are I think I know.

His house is in the village though;

He will not see me stopping here

To watch his woods fill up with snow.

My little horse must think it queer

To stop without a farmhouse near

Between the woods and frozen lake

The darkest evening of the year.

He gives his harness bells a shake

To ask if there is some mistake.

The only other sound’s the sweep

Of easy wind and downy flake.

The woods are lovely, dark, and deep.

But I have promises to keep,

And miles to go before I sleep,

And miles to go before I sleep.

Coping

By Audre Lorde

It has rained for five days

running

the world is

a round puddle

of sunless water

where small islands

are only beginning

to cope

a young boy

in my garden

is bailing out water

from his flower patch

when I ask him why

he tells me

young seeds that have not seen sun

forget

and drown easily.

An Excerpt of The Giving Tree

By Shel Silverstein

'I am sorry,' sighed the tree.

'I wish that I could give you something....

but I have nothing left.

I am just an old stump.

I am sorry....'

'I don't need very much now,' said the boy.

'just a quiet place to sit and rest.

I am very tired.'

'Well,' said the tree, straightening

herself up as much as she could,

'well, an old stump is good for sitting and resting

Come, Boy, sit down. Sit down and rest.'

And the boy did.

And the tree was happy.

Granting Children's Wishes For Joy and Learning

Credits:

Created with an image by inspirexpressmiami - "blog word letters." Lead photo by Kristin Brown on Unsplash.

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