Art Smart: Engaging Students through the Arts

Students graduate from the Waldorf School of Lexington having learned a full spectrum of artistic media and techniques.

Students graduate from the Waldorf School of Lexington having learned a full spectrum of artistic media and techniques.

by Robert Schiappacasse, School Director

“Arts programs deepen students’ involvement in their own education,” and “access to the arts speaks directly to the quality of the educational experience students receive.”

These words sound like they were spoken by a Waldorf teacher, but they are from an uplifting editorial in The Boston Globe championing arts education and its myriad benefits — from boosting academic performance across the curriculum to improving student and family engagement in education, just to name a couple.

At WSL, 8th graders help their 1st grade buddies learn to knit. Students continue handwork from grades 1–8, learning skills of increasing difficulty.

At WSL, 8th graders help their 1st grade buddies learn to knit. Students continue handwork from grades 1–8, learning skills of increasing difficulty.

At WSL, as at any other Waldorf school in the world, education is arts-integrated. The visual and performing arts are a key component of the academic curriculum across the grades. Our students’ days are rich with music, painting, eurythmy, handwork, woodwork, class plays, and other artistic experiences.

It is heartening to hear such strong support for the arts in public education, especially in underserved communities with struggling schools. The Globe cites Orchard Gardens K–8 school in Roxbury, which has gone from one of the state’s lowest-performing schools to one of Boston’s best after implementing an arts program. The school even replaced security guards with art teachers!

In the embattled climate of educational debate, it is good news to hear that funding sources such as Turnaround Arts (an innovative public-private partnership), along with the new federal Every Student Succeeds Act, are giving disadvantaged students across the country increased access to arts education.

At Waldorf we know that the arts are an important and formative educational experience for all children. Recognizing the benefits of the arts for engaging underserved populations is a good step toward seeing its value for all children, in every school.

From simple flutes and recorders to string and woodwind instruments, all Waldorf students learn through music, movement, and performing arts. Four-part harmony and class plays are not reserved for kids who audition—at WSL, the arts are for every child.

From simple flutes and recorders to string and woodwind instruments, all Waldorf students learn through music, movement, and performing arts. Four-part harmony and class plays are not reserved for kids who audition—at WSL, the arts are for every child.

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