Last Thursday we attended the Arts Everday Summit and were impressed and excited to see that there is a movement starting to get the arts more involved in Baltimore City Public Schools.
The goal of the summit was to come up with strategies on how to engage students in learning through arts integration. Arts integration involves students learning the normal curriculum through arts-based exercises. For example, students could learn about the society of Ancient Rome by writing and performing a play all about the Romans lives. The new group Arts Everyday, that sponsored the summit, works to achieve this in classrooms throughout Baltimore and hopes to make such arts-exercises a part of daily education here in Baltimore.
The summit opened with a morning of speakers. And not just your normal ho-hum rah-rah arts speakers, but speakers with credible knowledge in the field and a passion for seeing this kind of initiative succeed. Dr. Alonso, CEO of Baltimore City Public Schools came to express his interest in supporting the arts and helping to achieve more arts integration into curriculum. We heard from Sir Ken Robinson, a long-time expert in the field who was hilariously witty, and full of interesting insight into how to improve the way children are educated. We also heard from Paul King, who shared his experiences beginning an arts initiative in the New York City Public Schools and seeing it be a rousing success.
Over lunch the attendees, which were hundreds of people strong, were split into breakout groups to discuss ideas and strategies for how to take the ideas and passion from the summit and apply it in the schools. The conversation was very engaging and each question sparked additional ideas and development. Everyone seemed truly determined to see this plan succeed and to actually get arts into the schools. It would be impossible to list all the ideas that were developed in our group alone in this short space, but if our group was any indication, we are sure that there were hundreds of wonderful and realistic ideas and action plans brainstormed in that seemingly short hour.
When the group convened the general ideas that the different break-out groups had come up with were discussed on a general level and our speaker for this session, Russell Granet (Founder of Arts Education Resource) demonstrated with real-life examples how arts integration can actually improve the school lives of children in Baltimore.
Overall the day was an amazing experience. It was inspiring to see the overwhelming support for getting the arts into schools from both the schools and the arts organizations throughout the city. If this day is any indication of the future of Baltimore schools, than we are very optimistic about where the schools are headed.