Thinking through the Arts

Thinking through the Arts

Thinking through the Arts

Thinking through the Arts


Developed as an inclusive, broad-ranging & user-friendly text, this book presents the unique insight of teachers as researchers & counters the view that art is emotionally-based & therefore irrelevant to thinking & learning. The areas covered include drama, dance, music, arts environments, technologies, museums & galleries, literacy, cognition, international influences, curriculum development, research & practice.


Wendy Schiller

When children's play is discussed it is widely accepted that for a child, play is a serious business: it is a way of thinking through problems presented by particular settings and situations, of exploring options, often of making new connections in trying to make sense of the world. No serious observer or researcher of children's play would suggest that play is a solely physical sensation. Play is recognised as a child's way of learning: it can be problematic, raise new questions, challenge a child, and lead to new understanding of self and others. Play has status and credibility because of its place in a child's world. Why then are the arts not similarly respected for the richness and diversity they bring to children's learning, communication and expression?

Howard Gardner's (1983, 1994) theory of multiple intelligences recognised visual-spatial, logical-mathematical and bodily-kinaesthetic intelligences among others, and has been utilised in classrooms around the world, yet cognition in the arts has enjoyed less popularity and attention than it deserves, particularly in relation to young children's ways of learning. Perhaps this is because in the arts children's voices are heard, and their ideas can be legitimately communicated. Perhaps adults feel inadequate, thinking that special talents and creativity are necessary to stimulate children's interest in the arts. Perhaps the arts are seen as too difficult to assess, too esoteric to teach, too time-consuming in an outcomes-driven agenda. Malaguzzi put this tendency bluntly when he argued that: 'The school and the culture separate the head from the body' (cited in Edwards, Gandini & Forman, 1993: vi.)

The title of this book, Thinking Through the Arts, relates directly to its dual purpose, namely to look at ways of thinking through the arts with young children, and to promote thinking, through arts, with young children. Much is written about the value of the arts in early childhood but does rhetoric match reality? Do arts today fulfil Plato's pedagogic principle of harmony and balance of mind and body through 'gymnastic for the body and music for the soul', or have arts become marginalised in a crowded curriculum (Taylor &

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