Arts-Based Curriculum

An Arts-Based Curriculum
 

The arts are one of humankind's most essential forms of communication. Traditionally, arts have been secondary to academic curriculum; our school creates a course of study that centers around the performing arts.  Our academic core courses [English, History, Mathematics and the Sciences] are driven by the performing arts.  We believe that the arts:
 

  • ENHANCE students' self-concepts, communication skills and performance in academic disciplines
     
  • IMPROVE attitudes towards and perceptions of other cultures
     
  • RAISE scores on Standardized Assessments
     

We offer rigorous classes in theatre, dance and technical theatre; provide opportunities for students to be involved in our season of dramatic performances; and create opportunities for our students to observe and work with professionals in the performing arts community. 

 

Benefits of Arts-Based Instruction

Artistic Perception – Students learn the essential vocabulary of technical theatre, developing the baseline knowledge and skills necessary to communicate effectively in this art form.

Creative Expression – Students produce artwork, either by original creation or by performing the works of others.

Historical and Cultural Context – Students learn to understand the arts in the context of the time and place of their creation. They develop a broad understanding of artists and performers, their works, the effects that their society and times had on them, and consider the effects of their artwork on society in the past and present.

Aesthetic Valuing – Students are exposed to the sensory, intellectual, emotional and philosophic basis for understanding the arts and for making judgments about form, content, technique, and purpose. Students formulate personal aesthetic guidelines, which are then applicable to a lifelong, fulfilling experience of the arts. 

Connections – Students communicate competency in all aspects of the arts (creation, performance, production, analysis, appreciation, history, culture, technology,) within and across all curricular areas.

 

The Interdisciplinary Approach

Coordinated Thematic Units
Thematic units (a course of study revolving around one topic) engage students in learning, capture their interest, and involve them in discussions meant to stir controversy, debate, and critical thinking. Topics are structured to be intellectually and emotionally relevant to students so that they can meaningfully apply ideas learned from their discussions to their daily lives. 

The interdisciplinary approach to teaching envisions traditional subject classes as a unified and organic whole, rather than as divided individual pursuits. Teachers in an interdisciplinary setting work cooperatively to design, integrate and administer curricula that is thematically linked. This emphasis on thematic units -- when combined with team teaching, unified classes, and interdisciplinary projects -- encourages students to incorporate knowledge from each of their classes. In this way, students will rely on their various intelligences to solve problems and will then be able to recognize and build connections between their studies and their lives. 

Action-Based Projects
The basic premise of the action-based approach to curriculum integration is that successful, productive adults carry out a purposeful problem solving process at work and in other areas of their lives. By completing appropriately scaled down versions of adult action-based projects, students develop the capacity for success in their personal work life and demonstrate their degree of preparedness for work or for the next level of education.

Each semester will require students to work cooperatively on directed projects incorporating skills and knowledge gained across their various classes. An example of this is the annual Science Fair organized by our Biology and Chemistry teachers. Students conduct independent research, organize their data and present their findings to peers, parents and assorted community members. These action-based projects allow students to call upon their performing arts skills while enhancing content understanding in their academic classes. Students also foster the ability to work cooperatively in a group setting, yet be individually responsible for tasks delegated to them.