Renaissance in the Classroom: Arts Integration and Meaningful Learning

By Gail Burnaford; Arnold Aprill et al. | Go to book overview
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Introduction
The Editors
with Charles Twichell

CHICAGO ARTS PARTNERSHIPS IN EDUCATION:
HISTORY AND CONTEXT FOR LEARNING ABOUT ARTS INTEGRATION

The ideas and practices described in this book were developed inside a school improvement network called the Chicago Arts Partnerships in Education, (CAPE). CAPE was created in response to an identified need for a more coherent model for access to the arts in Chicago Public Schools. In the early 1990s, there was a high level of interest in the arts in Chicago schools, but the system of delivery could only be described as patchwork at best. Some schools had no arts teachers; most had a music teacher or a visual arts teacher, but not both, and almost none had access to dance, drama, or media arts. Arts specialists, where they existed, were often sorely overextended, serving as many as 1,400 students weekly, often having no regular work space, little equipment, few materials, and very little contact with the rest of the faculty—certainly no shared planning time. It was art on a cart.

At the same time, professional arts organizations were providing exposure programs (like student matinees and gallery tours), and organizations dedicated specifically to arts education were vending residencies to schools. There was very little assessment of how well these programs were actually serving schools, and access was inequitable and disorganized, both at the district level and inside individual schools. Although the quality of these exposure and residency programs was often quite high, there was something missing. They didn't take as part of school culture, and they didn't catch as curriculum.

The CAPE network was formulated as a model for making culture a true part of school culture by forging a clear connection between arts learning and the rest of the academic curriculum. This was to be done by insisting on the ongoing participation of classroom teachers and arts teachers in planning the role of the arts and visiting artists in CAPE schools, and by facilitating long-term partnership relation

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