Celebrating the Arts

News from the Middle School classroom

January 22, 2021

On Tuesday, we had a MIddle School Information Night via Zoom for rising middle schoolers.  To prepare for this, I went to the experts.  One expert, Dr. Thomas Armstrong, lists a number of requirements for best educational practices for early adolescence.  Those instructional requirements include:

  • Safe School Climate
  • Small Learning Communities
  • Personal Adult Relationships
  • Engaged Learning
  • Positive Role Models
  • Metacognitive Strategies
  • Expressive Arts Activities
  • Health and Wellness Focus
  • Emotionally Meaningful Work
  • Student Roles in Decisions
  • Honoring Student Voice
  • Facilitating Soc/Em Growth

When I read through the list, I felt really proud of PNA.  As an independent school we can decide on what we provide to our students.  This list just reinforces my belief that what we have been doing in the classroom, really is what we should be doing.

​With that being said, I will just let you read from the Dr. Armstrong’s chapter on middle school  from The Best Schools: How Human Development Should Inform Educational Practices about the expressive Arts.  Due to Covid, we have only just begun to resume this specialized programming for middle school.  Since we are studying U.S. History, Laura Bruni, the art teacher, is focusing on art from the U.S.

Expressive Arts
Thomas Armstrong
“Given all of the emotional and physical tumult roiling inside of young adolescents, it’s a wonder that more focus has not been placed on the expressive arts at the middle school level. Expressive arts should be considered a core component of any middle school plan. The arts provide opportunities for young teens to express themselves in an atmosphere that is without judgment in areas such as sculpture, painting, drama, music, and dance. It’s virtually impossible to fail in the expressive arts. In the course of expressing themselves artistically, students can sublimate sexual energies, channel violent impulses, sort out emotional conflicts, and build a deeper sense of identity. These are all critical developmental tasks in early adolescence.

… Young adolescents should have the opportunity to do some type of creative art activity every day, whether it is integrated into the regular curriculum…or engaged in as a freestanding activity. When young teens write poems, work in clay, draw, paint, dance, and sing, they are creatively involved in the act of forming themselves as autonomous individuals. The benefit to society could not be greater.”