The Miami Herald spoke with Emily Mello, Pérez Art Museum Miami deputy director for education and public programs, about extending arts education beyond the museum's walls to underserved communities throughout Miami-Dade County.
One child enthusiastically dives into a pile of colorful ribboned wires and begins to twist and bend them into different shapes, while a boy with his arms crossed stares down blankly. A teaching artist spots the pout and approaches him by putting a simple dome on the table and asks if he will help her to add to it. He reluctantly begins by curving one strip into a circle and soon his hesitation disappears.
We often assume that kids are endlessly creative, but those with few opportunities have yet to discover how talented and capable they can be. The creative process involves crossing and bending lines we once thought were rigid, trying and failing and trying again, perhaps finding that something even better than they imagined has suddenly taken shape. It’s a form of investment and risk taking.
Today, Florida’s public schools are working harder than ever with fewer resources to inspire students to succeed. Often one of the first areas to be impacted by reduced budgets is arts education, which encourages students to think critically, plan creatively, exercise their attention, their discussion skills and their collective understanding of cooperating and participating fully.
For lower income children, who may have fewer opportunities to visit museums or pursue private art classes, the value of teaching art in public forums has come into focus in recent years. According to a 2012 National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) study, lower-income students who are engaged in the arts have better academic results, stronger college aspirations and higher levels of civic participation. In another study by the Arts Education Partnership, preschool students who were highly engaged in the arts had increased positive emotional reactions and a better ability to balance their emotions than those in traditional learning settings. Read more