Does an artist communicate through his brush strokes? Does an author communicate through his words? Does a musician communicate through his strumming? Does a mime communicate through his silent motions? What if the artist changed the medium, the author selected different words, the musician intensified the volume, or the mime changed his facial expressions? Would the messages differ? The arts are the means by which students are permitted to delve deeper, express themselves more creatively, and learn more joyfully.
Unfortunately, language arts has lost the arts somewhere along the way as US educators have answered the national call to test more and test more often. That which is not tested has been pushed to the sidelines. What a tragedy that the arts, the most intense mode of individualism the world has ever known (Oscar Wilde) has become almost extinct in the overwhelming majority of classrooms as teachers hurry to address each reading and writing standard...one by one ...
Language (arts) has been reduced to a set of sub skills mapped out for instruction across the academic calendar to be mastered by students. There is a time each day to “do” reading and to “do” writing and art is definitely not in the picture (pardon the pun). Consequences for educators who do not adhere to the pacing guide and students who do not demonstrate mastery at the appointed time can be punitive for all. However, educators can work within the mandated curriculum to grow readers and writers to greater levels of proficiency by reintroducing the arts and weaving language arts throughout the day.
The classroom still belongs to the students and those who teach them. Educators have the opportunity to foster deep learning every day….may they do so artfully!