Skip Navigation
Education Through the Arts in Secondary Schools

by  Stephanie B. Perrin

In 1992 the US Department of Labor published a document called "What Work Requires at School for Workers in the Year 2000." They identified three categories. "Basic Skills" incorporates skills such as reading, writing, mathematics, and speaking. The second category, "Thinking Skills" includes creative thinking, the ability to problem-solve and make decisions, the capacity to reason and "see things in the mind's eye" (which I take to mean imagination), and knowing how to learn. Finally, under "Personal Qualities" they are seeking workers who are responsible, sociable able to work with others--have a sense of self-esteem, and integrity, are honest, and skilled at self-management.

This report suggests that a technological, service-based and international postmodern culture requires workers who are flexible, creative, question- askers, able to take action on behalf of themselves and others. People who are imaginative and critical thinkers, self-aware and able to work effectively on their own or with others. Postmodern workers need to be able to function in changing an ambiguous situations and be able to envision new realities and solutions to problems and act with confidence on their ideas.

Fundamentally, workers in postmodern society will be required to learn all their lives. From Wall Street to the garage down the street, those habits of mind and heart that support lifelong learning are what is needed and what schools must help students to develop. In the "old days", one learned math and, as a byproduct, may have learned critical thinking. What schools must do now is teach not only content but also the process of learning so that students emerge knowing what they learned, and, crucial to life- long learning, how they learned it.

We in America have known for some time that the old models of schooling are not adequate and that school reform is necessary to meet the demands of this new age. The only skills from the DOL list developed in the schools of much of the last hundred years have been, with the exception of "speaking," those in category one: "Basic Skills." If schools are to truly develop other skills and attitudes, then school reform on all levels is necessary if we are to prepare students for the world of work in the 21st century.

Many models are being tried and evaluated and it may well be that no single model will emerge. Rather, perhaps a variety of educational approaches will be found to work, just as we now know that people learn and must be taught in a variety of ways.

However, when one thinks of educational reform, schools for the arts do not immediately leap to the minds of the American public; quite the contrary, the arts are disappearing from public schools at a rapid rate. However, I want to suggest that such schools do offer a model that does work for many students, educating them both as artists and as citizens, and that this model may, in some form, work for more students then one might think, not only the "talented."

Consider, for example, that in cities such as Dallas and Washington the arts magnet high schools, even those that do not require an audition for entrance, when compared to other high schools in the district, have consistently high retention rates, low absenteeism and among the greatest number of graduates going on to further training after graduation. The reason for this is that these schools are able to engage students by capitalizing the student's own passion and desire to learn. Students in these schools want to go to school and to stay in school. They want to learn what the adults have to teach. Without that motivation, that "wanting," engaging students in their own education is difficult. The arts provide the motivation. The school builds on it to educate.

Intensive arts training, far from being impractical and elitist, can prepare students for life and work by developing in them the general skills and attitudes, the habits of heart and mind they need to prevail in postmodern society no matter what career they chose. Intensive arts training in high school increases, not decreases, options. If you want a motivated, organized, hardworking, flexible, smart, creative worker, able to work well alone or in groups, hire a young violinist.

Further, the philosophy and process of arts training, a far older system of education then that of American schools, also mirrors the motion of many current educational reform movements and addresses recent educational concerns such as: the need for standards; the concepts of student as worker, teacher as coach of the Coalition of Essential Schools movement; the development of character; coping with diverse learning styles; meaningful assessment; and the importance of responding to multiculturalism in schools.


Education through the Arts

How are students educated through the arts? How will arts training help develop in them the skills and attitudes they need to flourish in the next millennia? Here are some observations from the field.

Ownership of the work is a driving force in arts training. The student has chosen this path and knows he will stand or fall based on his own effort. He challenges himself to succeed at a task he has set. He takes his work seriously and knows that true motivation comes from within. He understands that he must sustain himself when the going gets rough. He understands that hard work and discipline are required if he is to succeed. If it takes six hours of practice a day, that is what he does. He is the keeper of his own vision.

Students in the arts develop the capacity to integrate many aspects of the self and translate that integrated self into action. They learn by doing, truly active learning. It is impossible for a student to learn to play the piano by watching her teacher. She learns to play by playing and her "doing" involves her body, her mind, and her spirit. Further, she has to put herself out in the world, to perform, in order to progress and that takes courage and a willingness to risk. You can't cheat in the arts. You can't send someone else to play your recital.

Arts students are able to use failure to learn. A pianist must make mistakes if she is to improve. Error is an indication of where the work is. Going too fast in a passage means "slow down," not "you are a failure." Schools have often not looked at failure as a teaching tool, yet it is the most powerful corrective in life if it is used as a part of learning, not as a punishment. These students also have to be critical thinkers and judges of their performance. Ongoing assessment, by the student as well as the teacher, is a part of learning in the arts.

Arts training develops in students an understanding that learning is an ongoing process, and therefore, unlike the Thanksgiving turkey, one is never "done." The goal is not to find the right answer; rather it is to ask the next, best question. Students often speak of having "had" history after a course. The study of the violin does not end at graduation.

Arts students have high ideals and strive for excellence, admiring and wishing to emulate their teachers. They have the gift of heroes and role models such as Yo Yo Ma and Meryl Streep, while Madonna consistently tops the charts of people most admired by teenagers. Such positive and respectful engagement with adults is something all adolescents long for and need, no matter how many studs they may have in their noses and ears. This faith in accomplished adults helps young people be eager to grow and join the adult world.

Passion is a concept that is very real to young artists. They are deeply focused and intense about what they do and what they believe. They are sometimes skeptical, but seldom cynical. They believe that their lives and work matter and that caring deeply about your work is essential.

The capacity to persist over time in order to reach a goal is developed in intensive arts training. Training in ballet, for example, begins as early as five years old. A young dancer knows she has to work for years to develop enough skill and technique to support her own artistry. Success is not a matter of a lucky break or a quick fix as the media would have young people believe. Respect for hard work and a self-motivated capacity to stick to the task are qualities needed in the working world.

Young artists have the gift of a positive sense of identity based on what they do, not who their family is or what clique they hang out with. The young dancer is a dancer, and she belongs to the world of dancers, one that includes her, Suzanne Farrell and Barishnykov. Arts training develops in students an understanding that her work is taken seriously by herself and her teachers, something that seldom happens to adolescents these days. Her self-esteem and self-confidence comes from accomplishment.

Young artists are big thinkers. They work with their whole selves, and they are able to see the whole of a piece, a concept, a piece of work, as well as the details.

Arts students learn to work well with others. The high level of responsiveness, sensitivity to others, and coordinated interaction is very clear in a theater piece or a string quartet. All members of an ensemble know that the success of the whole depends on the productivity of each member. Age, sex, country of origin, or ethnic group doesn't matter; the quality of the work does. This aspect of art training is mirrored in the recent interest in cooperative learning in the classroom as an effective way for heterogeneous groups of students to learn.

In this context it is interesting to note that educators who have studied schooling in Japan, often cited as an example of the efficacy of rote learning, have suggested that the most important skill Japanese children learn in school is how to work together for the success of the group. This ability has allowed Japan to emerge as an economic power in the world and is certainly a crucial attribute for a postmodern, internationalist culture where the capacity to work together for common goals is a necessity.

Peer pressure is a powerful force in schools, often having more influence over how a student behaves then any other group. It is often spoken of negatively but can work both ways. For example, Asian students experience peer pressure to do well in school. Inner city African-American students often experience the opposite. In schools for the arts, peer pressure is focused around high achievement and seriousness of purpose. The worst crime in a school for the arts is a lack of seriousness about the work. Students who want to "be artists," as opposed to actually producing, are quickly frozen out.

Students of the arts must develop their imagination to a high degree. One of the primary tasks of the artist is to imagine new realities, new forms and new interpretations; to make something where there was nothing. The unknown is, paradoxically, familiar and exciting territory for young artists, an advantageous attitude for the 21st century.

The study of the arts teaches students to be communicators of their thoughts, feelings, and ideas. If the audience doesn't "get" the character of Macbeth, then the actor isn't doing his job. Art students communicate, perform, and exhibit. They put themselves and their ideas out in the world. They act.

It has been said that studying to be an artist is a failure to face the facts of stiff competition for the few, low-paying jobs available. However, to fail to encourage young people to pursue their highest aspirations is counter- intuitive and, finally, counterproductive. The ambitious and visionary part of young people needs to be developed and if, in the end, they do not pursue a career in the arts, they will have had the experience of an education that, among other things, taught them all the skills they need to follow any career path, and did so by taking their dreams seriously. And they will never have to say, at 50, "if only I had..."

The writer Donald Murray suggested that, of all citizens, artists are the most capable of engaging with the 21st century. He said we need to educate people who can "discover meaning in confusion, pattern in chaos, instruction in failure, and vision in doubt ... they have to believe while questioning and have faith that beauty and order exist in confusion and ugliness." He suggests that schools teach arts as the main curriculum, with "math appreciation" in the afternoon.

Having suggested that intensive arts training develops habits, attitudes and skills useful for life in postmodern society, I would like to suggest how such training mirrors some of the current issues in school reform.


Education Through the Arts and School Reform

Coalition of Essential Schools -- Many of the concepts that inform Coalition Schools are seen in the process by which students have been trained in the arts for centuries. For example, the notions of student as worker and teacher as coach are reflected in the relationship between the young artist and her teacher. She learns by doing--by playing the violin. The teacher teaches by coaching and by demonstration. The concepts of outcome-based education and assessment by portfolio or demonstration are also part of the process of arts training. Students are judged on what they can do at a given moment in time. In music training such demonstrations are called juries and are the basis upon which progress is judged. Finally, the idea that the process, as well as the content, of learning should support lifelong learning is also seen in the study of the violin. Such study is never done, and such skills, once learned, become part of the fabric of the individual.

Standards --The theory behind the press for standards is that, if we want students to achieve at a high level, we must establish high national standards in all disciplines and hold schools and students accountable to those standards. High standards in the schools are seen as important not only in measuring achievement but also in motivating students. Studies have consistently indicated that high expectations, coupled with expert teaching, leads to high achievement.

In recent years there has been much discussion about the nature of "motivation" in students. The complexity of this issue has led some, sadly, to conclude that some children cannot respond to high standards, therefore lowering expectations and getting, predictably, low achievement. Low expectation leads to low achievement. The recent self-esteem movement in schools appears to suggest that children be told they are doing well even if they are not, because they will do better if they feel better about themselves. The result of this seems to be happy students who can't spell and who are not good judges of the true quality of their work.

Arts training, on the other hand, has never lost sight of the importance of high standards nor of what it take to achieve them. There is no quick and easy way to learn to play the violin. Arts training has followed the same principles for millennia: respect your teacher, work hard, and always aim to be the best you can be. High achievement is the result of some talent, good coaching, and a great deal of hard work. Further, these standards must be internalized by the student if he wishes to progress. Standards then become an aspect of character, not something externally imposed.

The discussion of standards also raises, again, the issue of assessment. In the arts, the final judge of a student's achievement is a master practitioner who sets the standard. To be assessed, the student periodically demonstrates his mastery by playing. More accomplished, artists assess him according to his own goals and a professional standard. Such assessment is a longer and much more individualized process then paper and pencil tests, but has the crucial element of not only telling students how they are doing in their discipline, but also of teaching them the process of assessment so that it can be used later in any situation.

Talent -- An (understandably) common perception is that intensive arts training is only for the gifted and talented few, rather then as perhaps an opportunity for learning that should be offered to all children from the earliest grades. We do not assume that only "talented" children can be taught to read, write, and figure, yet we call ability in the arts "talent," not intelligence, and assume that very few children possess this mysterious commodity.

The question is often asked as to why there are so many Asian musicians in American conservatories and orchestras. The explanation for the emergence of so much Asian talent is that in countries such as Korea, China, Taiwan and Japan all children are taught from the earliest grades to play an instrument, to draw and to sing. The issue of "talent" is set aside until later in schooling because it places too much emphasis on individual differences. It is assumed that all children can and should be taught to play, sing, dance, and draw to a high degree of proficiency just as Americans assume all children can be taught to read, write, and figure. Furthermore, proficiency in the arts in Asian culture is considered an important characteristic of an educated person. It is assumed that knowledge and ability in the arts is necessary to fully participate in one's culture.

This is in sharp contrast to the American experience where the arts are considered "nice" but not essential. If you ask American children at the age of five if they can dance, sing, and draw, they will reply enthusiastically "YES!" When asked the same question in middle school, they say "NO." These skills appear to be unlearned in American schools.

It is also well documented that the number of students who report participation in the arts drops from about fifty percent in first grade to below five percent in middle school, when, apparently, it is time to buckle down and study "real" subjects like math and science. Talent in America is not rare; it is un-nurtured and unidentified. How many songs remain unsung by American children because their society and their schools, unlike Asian society, separates the arts from other areas of human experience considered an essential element of a civilized culture. This is particularly ironic when one considers that it is often only through the artistic achievements of past cultures that we know what mattered to those who preceded us.

Varieties of Learning Styles -- These observations about talent and the arts are related to an area in educational research where we have gained much greater understanding in recent years; how children learn and, therefore, how should we teach. We now understand that every child learns differently: some are visual learners, others aural; some cannot focus on one thing for more then a minute or two or must be in motion to pay attention; others appear to think in the linear fashion favored by old- fashioned schools, and some seem to start in the middle of a concept and work their way out.

Until relatively recently, schools, particularly secondary schools, were structured to accommodate only the "linear" learner. Students who could sit still, write from the blackboard, keep their books in order, and listen without fidgeting to someone talking for a long time, did well. (What they learned is another question). Students who did not operate in this way were often labeled stupid, rebellious, or mentally ill (and if they weren't when they started, they were by the time they had suffered through years of being told they were bad because they didn't understand).

Happily, we now understand that children learn in a variety of ways and that the task of teachers is to ascertain how each child learns and works to teach to her strengths while helping her strengthen her weaknesses. This is not easy; it was much simpler to assume that all children learned in the same way. However, the more complex view is essential if we are to educate children as opposed to just keeping them in school.

Related to our increasing understanding of the true complexity of learning styles are the theories of Howard Gardner about the nature of intelligence. Gardner suggests that there are seven "intelligences," not just the two -- logical-mathematical and linguistic -- addressed in traditional schooling. He suggests that schools should strive to identify and develop all intelligences in children, including those he calls bodily-kinesthetic, musical, spatial, interpersonal, and intrapersonal. Different children will have different arrays of "intelligences" and schools need to teach to the particular child, using a variety of methods, and allow a variety of means of expression of such "intelligences."

He also raises the interesting point that we call logical-mathematical and linguistic abilities "intelligence" and label the rest, such as musical ability, as "talents." This distinction suggests that we view such intelligences as rare, particular to a few, not "real" ways of learning and therefore out of the realm of schools. Further, it is a radical notion in schooling to assert, as Gardner and others do, that the senses are direct forms of cognition and understanding.

Clearly, a school for the arts is able to offer to students many more opportunities to develop more "intelligences" then does a school which does not include work with the body, with music, with developing the understanding of self and others required of the good actor or the ensemble musician. Gardner's work makes it, once again, clear that, in removing the arts from the schools, many children lose access to modes of learning which are as valid in terms of developing essential general skills as the study of any of the traditional academic disciplines, and which may be a more effective match with their learning styles. The opportunity to teach the whole child is diminished.

Multiculturalism in Schools -- Multiculturalism in schools, especially in urban areas, has become a concern in recent years. According to the Carnegie Commission Report on Adolescence, one-third of American adolescents today are of non-European descent, coming from a wide variety of religious, ethnic, and national backgrounds. By the year 2050, close to 50% of the American population will be non-Caucasian. At present, in 26 California cities, there is no single racial ethnic majority. Learning to live peacefully while respecting diversity will be a major task for adults in the 21st century, adults who are at present adolescents in our schools.

Under these circumstances, creating a school community that recognizes differences yet supports commonly accepted goals and values is a challenge. High schools, where peer groups are the coin of the realm, are particularly vulnerable to cliques, mistrust and hostility. Further, the fact that students come from families who also often have widely differing values and experiences in the society adds to the difficulty of creating community within schools. This is not just a problem of inner city black-white-Latino conflict. Anyone who has heard Caucasian students in wealthy suburban schools talk with envy and derision about the superior performance of Asian students--"grinds"--understands that such wounding and divisive stereotypes are found everywhere.

In a school for the arts, the identity of students is based on their arts discipline and their merit judged on how serious they are in the pursuit of their work. Students are dancers, musicians, artists, actors and writers, not rich kids, poor kids, nerds, jocks, blacks, Asians or Latinos.

It is a cliché to say that art is a universal language, but it is my observation that students from many cultures are able to appreciate not only the content of the arts cross-culturally but also the process and aspirations of other young artists no matter what their individual background. A school where one can communicate by playing an instrument, singing, dancing, and painting is a school where there are many opportunities for all students to be seen in the fullest sense by their peers. For example, placement in a string quartet is based on skill level not age or nationality. It is therefore not uncommon to find players from 12 to 18 years old and from three or four different countries in one group relating and learning under the best possible circumstances; because they must if they want to play. Their common goals, techniques, and training help them overcome, in a natural way, the barriers that would normally separate them. They come to see and understand each other through the work, not the usual eat-the-food national-costume "international days," common in more many school settings.

The relevance for postmodern society in students coming to such an understanding through experience is obvious. True mutual understanding comes through working together in an endeavor that has meaning for all, using a "language," in this case music, common to all. It is experience and understanding, changed feelings, growing from that experience, that bind people together and break down the stereotypes that keep them apart, not rhetoric, rules or the pleas of school administrators to "get along." New experience changes perception and leads to new understanding. The arts offers a natural venue for such experience and therefore such understanding.

Moral Education -- One of the most difficult issues that our society and schools have to struggle with is the role of schools in the moral and ethical development of adolescents. In this secular and multicultural society there are no easy answers. In fact, we can't agree on what moral education is, let alone offer a "curriculum." However, addressing the question of how we support the development of good character in students is essential. A bright, well-educated and talented young person who has no moral center, who does not have the tools and understanding to lead an ethical life concerned with the meaning of actions and committed to the good of others as well as to himself, is ultimately useless and often dangerous.

Postmodern culture is characterized by conflicting values and notions of what it means to be "good." Schools must share with families and other social institutions the responsibility of helping young people sort out these values and provide them with tools for making ethical choices in a world that will continue to present them with fluctuating and often competing values.

Most young people want to be good, want to behave in an ethical way, want to be respected and respect others. It is up to adults in schools and elsewhere to foster that impulse toward health and goodness that is, admittedly, buried very deep in some.

Schools need to assert that what kind a person you are is as important as what you know and can do. Education does not equal goodness, and the importance of goodness needs to be made explicit wherever and whenever one can. Nor does goodness, like any true accomplishment, come from a timid failure to take risks thereby avoiding censure, mistakes and, incidentally, any growth. Goodness, like playing the violin well, does not come by default.

Schools need to teach young people that what we call our conscience, our awareness of right and wrong, resides within and not in a set of external rules and laws, important as these are to a civilized society. Young artists are asked all the time to listen to themselves, know themselves, and take responsibility for themselves. No one else can learn an actor's lines or appear for him in Macbeth. No one else can practice alone night after night.

The development of character means encouraging students to be true to their own beliefs and truths and acknowledging how hard that can be, especially when there is great pressure to betray the self for others. The study of the arts is about clarifying and being true to oneself, to ones own vision, even when there is little apparent support for that vision.

How is all this "taught"? Not in ethics classes. Morality is embedded in life, not separable into a discipline. Students learn what it means to be an ethical human being by working with and observing adults who strive to live an ethical life and accept responsibility for fostering that in students. Students learn about morality by observing how adults act, how they treat each other in the hall or cafeteria as well as in the classroom and studio. Adults are always under the scrutiny of the unforgiving adolescent eye and, although they deny it, adolescents imitate what they see, not what they hear. Arts students have an advantage in that they are quite ready to honor and follow their teachers, and their teachers consider it part of their teaching responsibilities to foster the development of a reflective self because art is the product of such a self.

Related to the issue of helping young people develop their ethical and moral selves is the trickier one of spirituality. "Spiritual" experience in postmodern America ranges from Born Again Christians to Timothy Leary's cult of LSD. The only area about which there seems to be any agreement is that there is a common concern about the fact that spiritual life for many people, especially adolescents, is not a meaningful part of daily life. No easy answer is apparent. What is clear at this time in our history is our collective longing for meaning and the seemingly frantic search for it.

William James said that all persons have a will to faith," a desire to believe in something greater then themselves. Certainly, one of the most positive characteristics of adolescents is their idealism and desire to seek greater meaning in life. Arts schools have an advantage in this realm because the study of the arts naturally leads students to questions and experiences that I would define as spiritual. The arts strive to make visible the invisible, to allow us to see and experience what we "know" but cannot see.

The study of the arts demands that students look for and talk about concepts such as '"truth," "meaning," and "beauty." Performance can allow both participant and viewer the experience of transcendence rarely felt in schools or society at large. Think of the effect of the opening notes of the Messiah or of watching Laurence Olivier as Macbeth. These experiences go straight to the soul and express and engender feelings that cannot be apprehended in any other way. An accomplished singer once remarked that what he was searching for in his work was the feeling he had as a small child when, as a member of a gospel choir, he opened his mouth and sang the first note. He called this experience "a state of grace; being in the presence of God." That ecstasy of being fully part of something larger and deeper then oneself, that glimpse into the transcendent, can come through the arts.

Spiritual life is concerned with the meaning of things, of events, of ideas. It is important to spiritual development to seek meaning and to be able to articulate that meaning to oneself and to others. Young artists are asked all the time to search for and articulate the deeper meaning of the work, to find the impulse that inspires creation.

In this sprawling and hard-to-define area of school life called variously moral development, ethics, spiritual life, another of the advantages of a school for the arts is that it is not only all right, it is necessary, to talk about love and passion. It is not cool for a young artist to be "cool" in the sense of being truly indifferent, a stance towards life that many adolescents cultivate rather then allow their fears or vulnerability to be seen.

We do not talk enough about love in our schools. We talk about sex, drugs, about relationships and responsibilities, as indeed we should because these are important aspects of living. But it is also the task of schools to teach about passion, about love, about the growth of the spirit because it is that part of young people that moves them toward greater dreams and wider worlds.

Finally, I have not even addressed in this paper the new research we are seeing concerning the relationship between arts and learning. Some research indicates that the study of music from a very early age alters the very structure of the brain. Another study suggests that merely listening to music allows students to perform better on tests. And the complexities of the relationship between musical and mathematical ability is only beginning to be explored. I would suggest that, with regard to our understanding of the developmental process in human cognition, we are, in 1996, roughly where medicine was in 1896. We will learn much in the next few years, and may begin to see arts training, especially among young students, in a different light.



I have suggested that the process of intensive training in the arts teaches young people the general skills and attitudes they will need to contribute in a postmodern world. Far from being irrelevant, it is one of the most effective methods of educating a young person I have observed, and one that finds itself in concert with many current ideas in the school reform movement.

Many schools are seeing that the process of teaching as the master musician has taught since the Greeks -- learning by doing, the teachers as coach, building on the desires of the student, working in groups, evaluation as part of learning, and assuming that learning never stops-is an effective educational process. Education through the arts is not the only model that uses these concepts, but I would argue it is a powerful one and one that could be utilized much more widely.

Postmodern society, service oriented, technologically sophisticated, and full of unknown opportunities, needs people who are artists and people who think like artists; people who are creative and critical thinkers, risk-takers, workers, imaginative and inventive, able to work alone or in groups, self- motivated, and open to new experience. It requires people who have faith in themselves and the future, and who want to be involved. This new century is not about specific training for specific lifetime jobs. It is about flexible skills and attitudes, yet with a firm grounding in the self, confidence built on a sense of agency in the world and in one's ability to ask the right questions and find this moment's answer. Artists are not afraid of what they don't know. In fact, it is what is unknown that is most inviting, the most challenging to the artist.

In American these days we see everywhere the signs of poverty and decay that afflict many citizens. What one cannot so easily "see" is the poverty of soul, of meaning, the loss of hope that we seem to be up against. One place where we can "see" it is in the teen suicide rate, in increased drug use, in killings in the street, and in the values promoted in and reflected by the media. We see it in the Carnegie report on adolescents which speaks of their loneliness and longing for family and for meaningful recognition.

It is the lack of a common civic and spiritual vision that leads to hunger, poverty, and the dead-end world of drugs, not the lack of resources or technology. America has resources and wealth that far surpass any other country in the world. As John Frohmayer remarked: "We are not in an economic depression; we are in a depression of courage."

America needs a greater vision for itself and faith in its own capacity for right action. We need to use what we have learned from our past experience and revision the future in a way that leads us forward to the future rather then remaining, as we sometimes seem to be, stuck in ennui, cynicism, and a dysfunctional nostalgia for what was (and it was not all that good. America in 1960 was great for Beaver Cleaver but not for Eldridge Cleaver). Artists -- and those who live and think like artists -- can provide that vision and can demonstrate the value of acting on one's beliefs, on the power of faith. Artists expect their work and lives to have meaning and importance. They follow their hope and not their fear, and America needs to do the same.


Horace's Compromise. Theodore Sizer. Houghton Mifflin Co., 1984.

To Open Minds. Howard Gardner. Basic Books, 1989.

Becoming Whole: The Power of Arts in Education. Eric Oddleifson. Center for the Arts in the Basic Curriculum, 1995.

A Demographic Look at Tomorrow. Harold L. Hodgkinson. The Institute for Educational Leadership, 1992.

Great Transitions: Preparing Adolescents for a New Century. Carnegie Council on Adolescent Development. 1995.

"Over Sixty." Donald Murray. The Boston Globe, September 12, 1995


About the author

Stephanie B. Perrin is Head of Walnut Hill School in Natick, MA. Ms. Perrin was President of the NETWORK of Schools of Visual and Performing Arts in Washington, D.C., served as a member of the Massachusetts Department of Education's Education Arts Advisory Council, is on the Board of Governors of the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, and is the Board Vice President of the New England Conservatory Lab Charter School in Boston. Ms. Perrin attended Barnard College and Boston University, where she graduated with a B.A. in Art History, and Harvard University, where she received a Master's in Teaching in Art Education and a Master's in Education in Counseling.


Copyright © 1997 CABC
Center for Arts in the Basic Curriculum

Search New Horizons


New Horizons Links

New Horizons home

About Us (NHFL)

Current Journal

Submission Guidelines


Follow us on Facebook, Linked In, and Twitter!

Facebook Icon Twitter Icon LinkedIn Icon

New Horizons Shop

Featured Item: Research-Based Strategies to Ignite Student Learning: Insights from a Neurologist and Classroom Teacher

By Judy Willis | Purchase

Visit the New Horizons store on for more selections

New Horizons store on