Importance of the arts in school

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Importance of the arts in school

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The Arts, I think are not only important to child development, adolescent development; I think they're absolutely essential. One of the craziness of this country is that whenever we have an economic problem, the Arts is the first thing to be cut. They, in fact, should be the last thing that we cut. They engage kids, they engage kids at the experiential level, and for may kids that's the reason they want to come to school everyday. I remember one public school where we put - My foundation put an Arts program. A teacher was walking down the hall and told the principal, "Oh my God, you should see the painting that Jose did" the principal said, "What are you talking about? Jose was expelled 6 weeks ago." The kid was sneaking back to school every week for his Art class. That was the only thing that was really important to him. It was where he could say, "This is who I am." Self expression is a fundamental need. If we deny it to children, they'll find negative ways to express who they are. Further more, according to Howard Gardner, it's one of the 7 forms of intelligence. So if you only test 2 forms of intelligence, then the other 5, you're denying kids who maybe naturally intelligent on one of those areas.

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Paul Cummins, PhD

Educator & Author

Dr. Paul Cummins, President and CEO of Coalition for Engaged Education (CEE), received his bachelor of arts from Stanford University, his MAT from Harvard, and his doctorate from the University of Southern California.  In 1971, he co-founded Crossroads School in Santa Monica and built it into one of Los Angeles’s most successful educational institutions and a national model for innovative, independent schools. 

In 1995, Cummins stepped down as Headmaster of Crossroads and formed New Visions Foundation (now Coalition for Engaged Education) to offer opportunities for Engaged Education to all youth. The first venture was New Roads School, a diverse, K-12 independent school in Santa Monica that has a deep commitment to social justice. New Roads devotes 40% of its tuition budget to need-based student financial aid, guaranteeing access to students from a wide socioeconomic array. Cummins has since implemented a number of innovative programs to help children at risk.

Cummins has published four books on education, including Proceed With Passion: Engaging Students in Meaningful Education (2004), and Two Americas, Two Educations: Funding Quality Schools for all Students (2007), both published by Red Hen Press. His most recent book of essays, Why Poetry? Reflections on Poetry, Writing and Culture, was published in 2009 by Xlibris, in addition to two volumes of his poetry and two children's books published in recent years. He is currently finishing Confessions of a Headmaster: My Pursuit of Joy and Justice in Education (forthcoming from Red Hen Press).

Cummins and his wife Mary Ann reside in Santa Monica. They have four daughters and five grandchildren.

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