Tag Archives: after school programs

New Study Examines What Kids Want, Need in Arts Programs

Photo Credit: Laura Foord

Photo Credit: Laura Foord

A recent study commissioned by the Wallace Foundation offers ten key strategies for after-school arts programs to attract and retain less-advantaged youth. “Something to Say: Success Principles for Afterschool Arts Programs From Urban Youth and Other Experts” draws on interviews with experts from leaders of outstanding arts programs nationwide to kids themselves and their families in order to answer three pressing questions:

  • How can urban, low-income tweens and teens gain equal access to high-quality arts experiences?
  • Is there a model of practices that could provide a blueprint for community-based organizations to emulate, so that proven approaches could be deployed in more places, more often?
  • Is there a way to approach the analysis of these problems that respects and honors the young people as consumers who make informed choices? And how do the insights of what tweens and teens want align with what other experts say they need?

By examining not only children’s access to these programs but also their desire to participate in them, this study provides an important look at what motivates youth to spend their time in after-school arts programs, and how we can enhance new and existing programs to make them more engaging.

Arts to Grow programs put into practice many of the principles cited in this study. Our classes are taught by professional Teaching Artists who are active in their field; our programs are customized to meet the needs of each group of students; our students actively engage in making art, which they then share with their community during our culminating events; and our Teaching Artists foster a safe community where students can feel accepted and free to express themselves. As we implement our ambitious plan to serve 5,000 kids annually within the next five years, we are working diligently to ensure that each new program is held to these same high standards.

Arts to Grow programs are taught by professional Teaching Artists, trained working artists with hands-on experience teaching students their art form.  If you’re interested in teaching for Arts to Grow, please visit us at artstogrow.org for more information.

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Arts classes- Improve students’ overall academic performance

“We feel we need to change the conversation about the arts in this country,” said Ms. Winner, a professor of psychology at Boston College and a senior research associate at Project Zero. “These instrumental arguments are going to doom the arts to failure, because any superintendent is going to say, ‘If the only reason I’m having art is to improve math, let’s just have more math.’ “

“Do we want to therefore say, ‘No singing,’ because singing didn’t lead to spatial improvement?” Ms. Winner added. “You get yourself in a bind there. The arts need to be valued for their own intrinsic reasons. Let’s figure out what the arts really do teach.”

In their new study Ms. Winner, Ms. Hetland and their co-authors, Shirley Veenema and Kimberly Sheridan, focused on the benefits accrued through classes in painting, drawing, sculpture and the other visual arts. The results are to be published in their book, “Studio Thinking: The Real Benefits of Visual Arts Education” (Teachers College Press).

They observed students taught by five visual arts teachers in two high schools in Massachussetts: three at the Boston Arts Academy, a public urban high school, and two at the Walnut Hill School for the arts, an independent secondary school in Natick. At both schools, all students specialize in an art form but are enrolled in a regular academic curriculum.

The authors videotaped a two- to three-hour class of each teacher once a month for one academic year. They then zeroed in on what they deemed to be crucial segments of teaching and learning, showed those clips to the teacher after each class and interviewed them about their intentions.