Renaissance in the Classroom is, as its title suggests, a book about renewal. It is intended to provide a means for looking at how children learn through exploration that incorporates the arts. Our children bring with them a limitless array of intellectual, emotional, and social potential. As adult guides and teachers, we have the responsibility and opportunity to provide learning environments in which children are truly challenged, in which young learners will become capable, self-directed learners. We have the chance to provide them with the necessary opportunities to negotiate between the subjective self and the objective world, between what the Maori people call dream time and everyday life. This book is a record of brave experiments in realizing that potential, through what former Chancellor of the New York Public Schools, Rudy Crew, calls “that combustion of cognition that connects the world behind the learner's eyes to the world before the learner's eyes” (Crew, 1999).
Collectively, we must reclaim the value of the arts as powerful mediators between the subjective and the objective in our children's education and development. The book's six chapters and related stories provide teachers with a framework for incorporating visual art, dance, drama, and music into other subjects they teach. Such integration enhances learning and improves students' ability to think independently and solve problems. Yet we know that arts integration is a process that must be consistent with the ongoing concern for learning standards; we have tried to be mindful of our responsibility to connect to the realities of schools and incorporate strategies for directly addressing goals and outcomes of the traditional curriculum.
The book invites the reader to consider the possibilities for learning and growth when artists and arts educators come into a classroom and work with teachers. The power of introducing children to artists in and through the work of arts integration is repeatedly celebrated in Renaissance in the Classroom. The text is intended to be useful to administrators and parents, but is primarily directed toward K-12 classroom teachers, arts teachers, and visiting artists who are working or want to work with young people in schools.
When we decided to write a book that people could use to guide arts integration in other settings, we called together a group of representative teachers and artists from a network of arts education partnerships called the Chicago Arts Part