ArtWorks for Schools culminated in the development of a program that teaches high-level thinking in and through the arts. The program was developed collaboratively by the DeCordova Museum, Project Zero, Underground Railway Theater, and schools in Cambridge and Lincoln, Massachusetts. The purpose of the program is to help teachers and students discover the power of the arts to enrich high-level cognition across school subjects.
Designed primarily for the upper elementary and middle school grades, but used by teachers of younger students as well, the ArtWorks program focuses on four high-level thinking dispositions which it views as central to responding to and making art and also as central to thinking and learning in other disciplines.
the disposition to explore diverse perspectives
the disposition to find, pose, and explore problems
the disposition to reason and evaluate, and
the disposition to find and explore metaphorical relationships.
These areas of thinking are characterized as dispositional in nature, rather than skill-centered, because they involve attitudes, emotions, and sensitivities, as well as cognitive skill. The areas have been selected because they satisfy three criteria which ArtWorks views as essential for teaching thinking in and through the arts: 1) Each of the thinking dispositions are authentic to responding to and making art in the sense that they are the things that people who view and make art actually tend to do; 2) each have genuine cognitive power in the arts, in the sense that they significantly contribute to aesthetic learning and understanding; and 3) each have genuine cognitive power in other areas of learning, particularly traditional school subjects.
The ArtWorks for Schools Curriculum Materials are now available. Program concepts are introduced through a videotape for educators. Lessons designed to cultivate the four forms of thinking--first in the arts and then transferred from the arts to other school subjects--are included in the teacher handbook. The teacher handbook also offers tips for teaching each lesson, guidelines for assessing student participation, additional lesson ideas, pictures of practice, and advice for making the most of field trips to the art museum or theater. Slides of contemporary art from the DeCordova Museum’s Permanent Collection accompany the lessons. The use of the curriculum materials can be supplemented by access to museum resources and theater performances.
For more information on Project Zero, go to: http://pzweb.harvard.edu/Research/ArtWks.htm